Masahiro Tanaka ready to face Phillies' front-liner players

Masahiro Tanaka of the Yankees pitches against the Masahiro Tanaka of the Yankees pitches against the Philadelphia Phillies at George M. Steinbrenner Field on March 1, 2014 in Tampa, Fla. Photo Credit: Getty Images / Scott Iskowitz

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PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. - Masahiro Tanaka's debut on Saturday was a success in a variety of ways.

The 25-year-old didn't appear overwhelmed or distracted by the hype surrounding his outing in front of a sellout crowd at Steinbrenner Field, and he performed reasonably well, throwing all seven pitches in his arsenal over two scoreless innings, striking out three.

But Tanaka, who came into that game against the Phillies in the fifth inning, did not face Philadelphia's front-line players.

That will change on Thursday when the righthander starts against the Phillies in Clearwater. "I'll be able to face some of the first string batters," Tanaka said through his translator Wednesday morning. "I'd like to go up there and see how I'll pitch against those batters . . . I feel that's important to be able to face good batters here in the States."

Manager Joe Girardi said Thursday is simply another step in Tanaka's adjustment to the majors. "I think it's an opportunity to see what he needs to do, what he feels he needs to do to be successful over here," Girardi said.

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Test drive for replay system

Thursday's game against the Phillies will be the first opportunity for Girardi to test out MLB's new replay system, and he doesn't plan to waste it. "We'll practice it tomorrow," he said. "We'll have someone in the clubhouse watch on TV. But he's basically going to get one or two angles where at home he would get 12. We'll use walkie talkies and try to do the best we can. I don't think you'll be able to really practice until you get home."

Good day for Nuñez

Eduardo Nuñez, who has seen time at third this spring, started Wednesday at second and went 3-for-3, including a double, improving to 4-for-11 this spring. Nuñez came up as a shortstop and it remains his preference but he realizes that isn't up to him. "I'm not in a position to say, 'I don't want to play second, I don't want to play third,' " Nuñez said. "You have to be able to play everywhere."

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