Tanaka tabbed to start against Phillies

Tanaka tabbed to start against Phillies

TAMPA, Fla. -- Masahiro Tanaka's next assignment will come as a starter, as manager Joe Girardi has announced that Tanaka is scheduled to start on Thursday against the Phillies in Clearwater, Fla.

Tanaka, 25, made his debut as a reliever in Saturday's 2-0 win over the Phillies at George M. Steinbrenner Field, throwing two scoreless innings. He allowed two singles and struck out three, with no walks.

"I think he handled it really well," Girardi said. "I know he's pitched out of the bullpen, but the way he did it yesterday, he's not used to doing [that] all the time.

"But I think he handled the situation really well, because I think there's been a lot of anticipation for that, and I think there will be a lot of anticipation for his first real start."

Girardi said that Tanaka's poise has been encouraging. Tanaka has not seemed to have any issues dealing with the attention surrounding his arrival in camp or the seven-year, $155 million contract he signed.

"It gives you a belief that he can handle it," Girardi said.

With Tanaka drawing Thursday's starting nod on the road, left-hander CC Sabathia will remain behind to throw in a simulated game at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Sabathia threw two scoreless innings in his spring debut.

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.