Masahiro Tanaka to make his spring debut on Saturday and HBT will be there

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I leave for spring training in Florida tomorrow. Masahiro Tanaka makes his spring training debut on Saturday. Oh, providence!

Tanaka will throw 35 pitches for the Yankees that day. He won’t start — that’ll be CC Sabathia — but he will start an inning, either after Sabathia or third after Hiroki Kuroda goes.

I was at Yu Darvish’s spring training debut in Arizona a couple of years ago. The pitching itself was kind of boring — he had good stuff but also gave up a lot of sharp hits — but it was a wild scene overall. The media throngs, the pumped-up fans and the general excitement of the debut of a much-awaited and little-seen pitcher. I figure that the Tanaka experience will be like that multiplied by about a hundred. Everything is bigger in New York. Even when New York is in Tampa for a couple of months.

I’ll be posting live from Tanaka-palooza on Saturday. Be here/there or be square.

Zack Wheeler will miss at least two starts when his wife gives birth

Zack Wheeler miss starts
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Per The Athletic’s Matt Gelb, Phillies starter Zack Wheeler will miss at least two starts when his wife goes into labor and gives birth to their first child, expected to be later this month. Wheeler, in fact, is not sure if he will return to play at all once their child is born.

Wheeler said, “We just have to see how things are here at the field and at the stadium. I’m happy with what I see so far. But things could change, especially once our baby’s born. I always think about what’s going on around me. Is it safe? Is it OK? Literally every single day. I have to just ask myself that. I’m going to continue to keep asking myself that every day.”

Wheeler, 30, inked a five-year, $118 million contract with the Phillies in December. He is slated for the No. 2 spot in the rotation behind Aaron Nola. Last season, with the Mets, Wheeler posted a 3.96 ERA with 195 strikeouts and 50 walks over 195 1/3 innings.

The No. 5 spot in the Phillies’ rotation is currently up for grabs between Nick Pivetta, Vince Velasquez, Ranger Suárez, and prospect Spencer Howard. One of the remaining three could fill in for Wheeler when he needs time off, temporarily or otherwise.