Start No. 2 for CC Sabathia. And plenty of eyes will be on the radar gun.
“This is typical for CC,” Joe Girardi said. “In the seasons that we’ve had, his velocity in April is not the same as it is in June, July, August. That’s been his DNA. I can’t tell you how high it’s going to go, but I know it’s going to go up. I believe it’s going to go up, just like it did last year. There were a lot of pitches he threw 89, 90 mph early in the season. But I think, because of what he went through last year, I think people are paying closer attention to it. But this is not abnormal for CC.”
That’s fair enough, but Sabathia is also coming off elbow surgery and entering his mid 30s. There are is legitimate reason to wonder whether Opening Day was a sign of things to come, and even more reason to wonder whether Sabathia can make the necessary adjustments if his velocity is going to dip significantly going forward.
“You’ve just got to make sure you don’t get caught up on what’s being said and your focus is just making your pitch,” Girardi said. “There’s been a lot of guys that have pitched successfully anywhere from 89 to 93, 94 and won a lot of games. I had a chance to catch a Hall of Famer, Greg Maddux, and I don’t remember him ever throwing over 92, 93 mph. He won a lot of games, so it comes down to location. … As you get older, you have to get a little wiser. Andy Pettitte used to throw a little harder too, but he’s learned to pitch with what he has, and that’s what you have to do.”
There’s a lot of wait-and-see involved here. Will today’s velocity be the same as it was on Monday? Will it rise as we get into the summer? Will Sabathia’s location, changeup and slider be enough to overcome naturally diminishing velocity if/when it happens?
“CC’s been a command guy too,” Girardi said. “He hasn’t been just a power pitcher that blows people away. You think about his changeup, how effective that’s been. His sinker down and away, how effective that has been. CC has been a guy, for me, that never tries to strike everybody out. He says, here it is, let’s play. I’m going to put it in play and making quality pitches. We can get caught up in the velocity, but I don’t think it’s going to determine his fate.”
• Girardi didn’t post a lineup immediately because he wanted to give Eduardo Nunez a chance to determine whether he could play. “He feels better, but he’s just not ready to go, so we’ll give it a shot again tomorrow,” Girardi said. “He tried to hit and throw today, and it’s just not ready yet.”
• Girardi said he’s still convinced this will be a fairly short-term issue, but clearly Nunez isn’t ready yet and the Yankees are extremely short in the infield without him. The good news, I suppose, is that all four upcoming Indians starters are right-handed, which means the Yankees can use Lyle Overbay without wanting to sit him for platoon purposes.
• Hiroki Kuroda will start tomorrow. “Unless something happens when he’s warming up tomorrow, he’s a go,” Girardi said.
• The Tigers will honor Mariano Rivera with a pregame ceremony. “I think it’s a nice gesture,” Girardi said. “Mo is one of those guys that doesn’t come around very often, so I like it.”
• Girardi on Justin Verlander: “They know what they have to do. The thing about Justin is, he has four swing-and-miss pitches. You have to be patient on him. You have to hope he’s having a hard time commanding a few early in the game, because once he gets on a roll, he’s pretty tough.”
• Girardi on Miguel Cabrera: “You’ve got to make pitches. You’ve got to make pitches and you’ve got to make him uncomfortable and you’ve got to feed off sometimes he can be aggressive, but he’s not a triple crown winner by accident. He’s a great hitter. I think you could argue he’s the best hitter in the game, and if you don’t make pitches, he’s going to hurt you. And sometimes when you do make pitches, he’s going to hurt you.”
• Girardi on Boone Logan: “He’s not in a groove that we’ve seen him get in. But he’ll get in it. We need to get him going because he’s really important, and being that one left-hander, he’s going to be asked to come into crucial situations at different times. Last year it was more later in the game. But the crucial time could be in the fifth, sixth; we’re going to need him.”
Associated Press photos