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.