Finally, the games count. The Yankees open the regular season at 3:10 this afternoon, sending ace CC Sabathia to the mound against James Shields.
“I still get butterflies before pretty much every game, but especially Opening Day,” Sabathia said. “It’s a brand new season and you want to start the season off right. It’s an honor to be able to go out there and take the ball.”
Sabathia had the right to opt out of his contract this winter, but he said that never crossed his mind last season. He thought about his pending free agency a lot in 2008, but not last year.
“I knew where I wanted to be,” he said. “The perception is that it’s not a close clubhouse, that it’s not a place where guys want to go. You hear that as a player. That’s something I was really concerned about, and coming from Cleveland, where I had grown up with all these guys, and being so close to those guys in Milwaukee over a two-month span, it was really something that was important to me, making sure the clubhouse was good. … Since Day 1 of spring training ’09, I’ve just felt like one of the guys. Back when I signed, Jete called me, Sado called me, all those guys I talked to. It’s been a lot easier than I thought it would be to transition to New York.”
As for the Yankees, Brian Cashman compared the Sabathia signing to the Mike Mussina signing. Committing big money to a free agent starter is a risk, but Sabathia has paid off about as well as possible so far. He seems perfectly suited for the role.
“It’s hard to imagine our club without him and where we’d be without him,” Joe Girardi said. “You need that guy you can count on every fifth day, that can put an end to a losing streak, that can carry a heavy load if your bullpen is tired, that gives you distance, gives you quality innings, gives you wins. Every good club has to have that guy.
“He has been that guy the last three years for us.”
Associated Press photo