TAMPA, Fla. -- Masahiro Tanaka is scheduled to make his first start of the year on Thursday against the Braves, and after seeing him get through all of his other hurdles without incident this spring, the Yankees have confidence about the right-hander's health.
Tanaka is expected to throw two innings in the 7:05 p.m. ET Grapefruit League contest that will air on MLB.TV, his next natural step after tossing 29 pitches in a simulated game last Friday at George M. Steinbrenner Field. General manager Brian Cashman said that the team is proceeding without restrictions.
"It's not in my control whether Tanaka stays healthy for 10 more years or 10 more days," Cashman said. "It's not something, quite honestly, I'm going to worry about. If it declares itself in an adverse way, we'll just have to deal with it and do whatever the next course of action is, which would be a surgery if he has a problem, you'd think. But he's been great."
Tanaka, 26, sustained a partial tear of his right ulnar collateral ligament last July and rehabbed the injury on the advice of four leading specialists, returning to make two September starts for New York. He was 13-5 with a 2.77 ERA over 20 starts in his first big league season.
The Yankees also plan to have left-hander CC Sabathia pitch in a simulated game on Thursday. Sabathia is recovering from arthroscopic surgery on his right knee, and despite a somewhat more conservative schedule than past years, the team expects that the 34-year-old will be ready for the Opening Day roster.
"Everything has been as good as we could expect for all those guys thus far," Cashman said. "Tomorrow will be another step in the process, and yes, you'll find out if it looks good, feels good. You still swing by the trainer's room the next day, 'How did he report himself?' All that stuff. But I do that anyway, to be honest."
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.