Masahiro Tanaka to make spring debut Thursday

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It had been expected and has now been confirmed: Masahiro Tanaka will make his 2015 Grapefruit League debut this Thursday against the Braves.

Tanaka worked through a successful two-inning simulated outing on Saturday in Yankees camp and figures to go two innings in his first start of the spring.

The right-hander was diagnosed last summer with a partially-torn ulnar collateral ligament in his pitching elbow, but opted for rehab instead of Tommy John reconstructive surgery and the decision has worked out so far. The Yankees badly need it to keep working out.

Tanaka, 26, boasts a 2.77 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, and 9.3 K/9 in his first 20 major league starts.

Reds are the frontrunner for Nicholas Castellanos

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Jon Morosi of MLB.com reports that the Reds “have emerged as the frontrunner” to sign free agent outfielder Nicholas Castellanos. Morosi says the Reds and Castellanos “have made progress over the past several days.”

The Reds were going to have a lot of outfielders already when they hit Goodyear, Arizona in a couple of weeks, with newcomer Shogo Akiyama, Jesse Winkler, Nick Senzel, Aristides Aquino, Travis Jankowski, Scott Schebler, and Rule 5 draftee Mark Payton. Senzel was an infielder before last year, of course, so he could move back to the dirt, perhaps. And, of course, the Reds could trade from their outfield surplus if, indeed, they end up with an outfield surplus.

Without question, however, Castellanos would be the big dog, at least offensively, in that setup. He had a breakout year at the plate in 2019, hitting .289/.337/.525 overall (OPS+ 121), but slugging at a blistering .321/.356/.646 pace (OPS+ 151) after being traded from the Tigers to the Cubs. In Chicago — rescued from cavernous Comerica Park — his big doubles power turned into big homer power. If he were to sign to play half his season in hitter-friendly Great American Ballpark one can only imagine the damage he’d do.