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Saturday notes: Nervous Sabathia finds comfort on the mound

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CC Sabathia’s first spring bullpen was more than a mere formality. It was his first time on a mound since offseason elbow surgery, and Sabathia had something to prove to himself.

“I got a little nervous when I first got up there just because it’s the first time doing it,” Sabathia said. “I hadn’t been up there and didn’t know how I was going to feel. I immediately felt good and felt comfortable after the first couple of pitches.”

Today’s 29-pitch session — all fastballs and changeups — wasn’t enough to get Sabathia through the woods completely, but it was a significant step. Asked if he was looking for a specific sign that would tell him his elbow is fine, Sabathia said this was it.

“I think today, getting back up there, actually throwing off a mound and not having any pain feels good,” Sabathia said. “… Playing catch I could feel the difference, but it feels even better on the mound.”

It’s odd to be in Yankees camp with both Sabathia and Mariano Rivera being less than sure things, and those two will still have some lingering uncertainty until they both get into games and leave no more room for doubt.

“I’m pretty confident they’re going to be OK, but I always say, in the back of my head, I want to see them out there before I make that assumption,” Joe Girardi said. “But I feel pretty good about it just because I know where they are in their rehabs. I think they’re pretty far along. They’ve had good winters.”

[3]• Sabathia will not make a start during the first turn through the spring rotation. Girardi said it’s likely Sabathia won’t pitch in a game until March. It’s also very, very likely that Rivera won’t pitch in a game until March. “Very safe to assume that,” Girardi said.

• The first spring game is a week from today, but Girardi said he still doesn’t know who’s going to make that start. “We kind of want to make sure who’s ready,” Girardi said. It’s probably worth noting that both David Phelps and Adam Warren have already faced hitters. My guess is that one of those two will get the first start, but that’s just a guess.

• Sabathia threw 29 pitches today. Rivera said he threw roughly 30, but he wasn’t sure of the exact number.

• Will breaking balls be a bigger test for Sabathia’s elbow? “No, I don’t think so,” Sabathia said. “I’ll start throwing some breaking balls on flat ground coming up and try to throw some in the bullpens the next couple of days.”

• Today’s schedule was kind of odd and I missed most of the bullpens and batting practice sessions because I was either in the clubhouse or waiting for Sabathia to speak. Girardi said that everyone is healthy so far.

• Position playes report to camp tomorrow. Girardi said he’s expecting that everyone who’s supposed to be here will be here.

• Derek Jeter will address the media tomorrow. He’ll do his usual start-of-spring press conference.

Associated Press photos