In actuality, Yankee ace CC Sabathia probably only missed two turns in the rotation. With the All-Star break giving him extra time to allow his left groin to heal without missing any games, the big lefty will return to the mound tonight against the Toronto Blue Jays having not missed significant time.
“It sucks,” Sabathia said bluntly. “You feel like you’re not contributing and helping the team. For me, it’s a little embarrassing, but its part of the game. I’m healthy now and ready to go.”
Sabathia has been a horse for the Yankees since signing with the team prior to the 2009 season, and they’ll need him to retake his role as their No. 1 pitcher for the second half of the season. With Andy Pettitte expected to be out until September, the rotation is still a bit short-handed.
“It’s a great team,” Sabathia said. “When (Mariano Rivera) went down, (Rafael Soriano) stepped in and did a great job. I think this team is built for things like that to happen, and these guys have stepped it up. Hopefully, I don’t come back and mess it up.”
Having only been on the disabled list for a short time, Sabathia did not make any minor league rehab starts leading up to tonight’s game. He kept his arm loose with bullpen sessions and proclaimed himself to be at “100 percent.”
“I’ve thrown a lot in between,” Sabathia said on Monday, noting that his biggest key will be fastball command, in and out. “I threw a day ago, so I feel like I got enough work off the mound, played enough catch, threw some flat grounds so that I should be able to go out and throw strikes.”
Sabathia also noted that he thinks the rest may have benefitted his left arm. He’s averaged 235 innings per season since becoming a Yankee, so a little time off may have helped him save some bullets.
In 15 starts so far this season, Sabathia is 9-3 with a 3.45 ERA , 1.27 WHIP and 105 strikeouts in 107 innings.
“I think the rest was good for my arm – even more so than my leg,” he said. “Hopefully, this will be a blessing in disguise.”
Generally speaking, manager Joe Girardi will allow Sabathia to throw 120 pitches or so in a given outing. But Girardi said he plans to be a bit more cautious tonight.
“I think you have to, just to be fair to him, to be able to make sure that he can bounce back in his next start,” Girardi said.
Sabathia will be facing a Toronto lineup that will be missing its best hitter. Jose Bautista left Monday’s game with a left wrist injury and manager John Farrell has already said he won’t play tonight. For more, here is Ken Fidlin’s story from the Toronto Sun.
UPDATE, 2:00 p.m.: Bautista has officially been placed on the 15-day DL.