NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Masahiro Tanaka might end up being the ace of the Yankees’ staff, but he won’t be pitching on Opening Day.

He won’t start the second game of the season, either. Or the third.

It appears that the Japanese phenom will get the ball in the fourth game of the season, when the Bombers take on the American League East-rival Blue Jays in Toronto.

Manager Joe Girardi has indicated that CC Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda and Ivan Nova will start the first three games in Houston, which would line Tanaka up for game No. 4.

It hasn’t been announced yet, but it appears likely that Michael Pineda will be named the No. 5 starter following his stellar spring.


Assuming Tanaka and the rest of the staff stays on schedule, he’ll make his Yankee Stadium debut on April 9 against the Orioles.

“He needs to throw one more time and we could flip-flop,” Girardi told the New York Post in regard to Tanaka’s final spring training appearance. “Nova could throw in a minor-league game. He had a pretty good workload the other day.”

Girardi also mentioned that it would be beneficial to not have Kuroda and Tanaka pitch on consecutive days, as the two Japanese hurlers have very similar styles on the mound.

The Yankees signed Tanaka to a seven-year, $155 million contract on January 22.

The 25-year-old has impressed in camp, posting a 3.00 ERA in 15 innings over three starts. He’s displayed impressive command, striking out 16 and walking just three. Opposing batters have hit .211 against him.

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