Tanaka's debut headlines packed spring slate
All 30 Major League clubs scheduled for action; MLB.TV to spotlight seven games
With Spring Training games underway for all 30 Major League clubs, Saturday offers a full slate of action in both the Cactus and Grapefruit Leagues, featuring a number of highly anticipated debuts.
Masahiro Tanaka will make his spring debut with the Yankees, who host the Phillies at 1:05 p.m. ET in a game that can be seen live on MLB.TV. Tanaka won't start; instead the right-hander is scheduled to enter in relief to begin the fifth inning. The 25-year-old has been a star in Japan since high school, so his first live action with the Yankees doesn't seem to have him unnerved.
"I understand there's going to be a lot of attention on the results, the numbers of what I do out there," Tanaka said through an interpreter. "But for me, I'm not looking at it at all. I just want to go out there and pitch my style and see how it is on the mound."
Phillies right-hander Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez will also make his debut in relief. He signed a three-year, $12 million deal with Philadelphia last year, but is somewhat of an unknown after not pitching competitively in some time since leaving Cuba.
Nelson Cruz is expected to make his Baltimore debut when the Orioles host the Blue Jays in a game that can be seen live on MLB.TV at 1:05 p.m. ET. Cruz, who inked a one-year, $8 million deal last week, sat out Friday afternoon in the Orioles' Grapefruit League opener.
The Twins host the Red Sox in their first game at renovated Hammond Stadium. A.J. Pierzynski will be behind the plate for his Boston debut in a game that can be seen live on MLB.TV at 1:05 p.m. ET. Red Sox newcomer Grady Sizemore will face big league pitching for the first time since 2011 and fellow outfielder Daniel Nava will make his Grapefruit League debut.
Andrew McCutchen, the defending National League Most Valuable Player, is expected to be in the Pirates' starting lineup when they host the Rays in a game that can be heard live in an exclusive webcast on Pirates.com at 1:05 p.m. ET. McCutchen did not play Friday in the Bucs' Grapefruit League opener. Tampa Bay left-hander David Price is scheduled to make his first start of the spring.
Jason Vargas takes the mound for his Royals debut, slated to go about two innings against the Padres. Veteran Brad Penny, who is bidding for a job after a season of inactivity, will follow Vargas. Ian Kennedy is scheduled to make his first Cactus League start for the Padres.
Shortstop Jhonny Peralta will make his Cardinals debut against the Marlins in a game that can be seen live on MLB.TV at 1:05 p.m. ET. Outfielder Matt Holliday is also slated for his first action of the spring. The Marlins have a split-squad day, with Rafael Furcal on track to make his club debut at second base against his former team.
A second Marlins squad visits the Mets, who will send left-hander John Lannan to the mound in a 1:10 p.m. ET game that can be seen live on MLB.TV. The Mets will also ramp up their bullpen competition with Vic Black, Kyle Farnsworth and Scott Rice all scheduled to pitch.
Dan Haren gets the ball for his Dodgers debut against the Brewers at 3:05 p.m. ET in a game that can be seen live on MLB.TV. The Dodgers hope to have outfielders Carl Crawford (quad) and Yasiel Puig (shoulder) back in the starting lineup. Right-hander Kyle Lohse is scheduled to make his first start of the spring for Milwaukee.
Nationals ace Jordan Zimmermann is scheduled to pitch two innings against the Braves in a contest that can be heard live on Gameday Audio at 1:05 p.m. ET. Reliever Luis Ayala is expected to make his first appearance with Washington since 2008 and will likely pitch an inning.
C.J. Wilson is on track to make his first Cactus League start when the Angels face the Mariners at 3:05 p.m. ET in a game that can bee seen live on MLB.TV. Wilson said he felt fine during his bullpen session on Thursday after being hit in the left side of the head by a comebacker on Tuesday.
Oakland right-hander Sonny Gray and outfielders Coco Crisp, Josh Reddick and Yoenis Cespedes will make their Cactus League debuts against the Rangers in a matchup of American League West foes in a game that can be heard live on Gameday Audio at 3:05 p.m. ET.
The Cubs have a split-squad day, with top prospects Kris Bryant and Jorge Soler expected to start against the D-backs at 9:10 p.m. ET. A second Cubs squad will face the Giants at 3:05 p.m. ET. Both games will be available on an exclusive webcast on Cubs.com.
The Indians will get a look at two candidates for their lone rotation vacancy with veteran Aaron Harang and prospect Trevor Bauer each scheduled to pitch two innings against the White Sox. Chicago starting pitcher John Danks and slugger Adam Dunn are slated to make their first appearances in the Cactus League.
Billy Hamilton should be back at the top of the Reds' lineup against the Rockies after getting a game off on Friday. Meanwhile, right-hander Jordan Lyles gets the ball in his Colorado debut.
Austin Laymance is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.