Tanaka to make spring debut Sunday

Coming off surgery, righty will be limited to 30-35 pitches

Tanaka to make spring debut Sunday

TAMPA, Fla. -- Masahiro Tanaka will make his Grapefruit League debut in Sunday's 1:05 p.m. ET game against the Phillies in a game that will air on MLB.TV, Yankees manager Joe Girardi announced on Thursday.

Tanaka has been on a modified schedule as he recovers from a procedure to remove a bone spur from his pitching elbow. The right-hander faced hitters in batting practice on Wednesday at George M. Steinbrenner Field, reporting no issues.

"He felt good today, and he'll throw Sunday," Girardi said.

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Tanaka, 27, was 12-7 with a 3.51 ERA in 24 starts for the Yankees last season. He is scheduled to throw 30-35 pitches over two innings. Girardi also identified his Grapefruit League pitching rotation into next week.

Michael Pineda will face the Astros on Monday, CC Sabathia travels to see the Marlins on Tuesday, Ivan Nova draws the Mets on Wednesday in Port St. Lucie, Fla., and Nathan Eovaldi will start a split-squad game against the Blue Jays on March 10.

Nova shows sink

As he begins his bid to crack the Yankees' rotation, Nova's second inning on Thursday stood out to Girardi. Nova induced two groundouts with a strikeout after coaxing the Phillies' Aaron Altherr into an inning-ending grounder in the first.

"I thought he threw well," Girardi said. "He got a lot of ground balls, and that's what you want to see. That means the sinker was working pretty good. I think his curveball was a little off today and probably didn't have it today, but he worked on it and that pitch will be there."

Nova was touched for a Darin Ruf RBI double, but says that he feels significantly better than he did after returning from Tommy John surgery last season.

"My arms feels probably better than what I felt last year," Nova said. "I feel great. Hopefully it keeps like that through all of Spring Training and into the season."

Settle down, 'pen

After two Grapefruit League games, there are some ugly numbers taking up residence among the bullpen hopefuls.

While Jacob Lindgren (108.00 ERA), James Pazos (40.50 ERA), Nick Goody (18.00 ERA) and Anthony Swarzak (18.00 ERA) all probably wish they could wipe their stat lines clean, Girardi isn't looking too closely.

"It's too early. As I told them, it's not fair to evaluate [yet]," Girardi said. "I mean, I look at Lindgren. He hasn't really pitched since May, right? That's not easy to do. And I'm sure there were some nerves, and I'm sure he was overthrowing a little bit. I don't make too much of it."

They said it

"I thought we started something really good last year. We have a really good group in here. We have a good combination of veteran players and young players. This is as good a young talent pool as we've has since I've been here in 2004." -- Alex Rodriguez

Worth noting

Brett Gardner (bone bruise in left wrist) hit in the indoor cages again on Thursday and "felt great," according to Girardi, who said that Gardner will take a full round of BP in the cage on Friday. Gardner isn't expected to play in a Grapefruit League game until mid-March.

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