CC Sabathia will meet with Dr. James Andrews next Monday to determine what’s next in Sabathia’s attempt to recover from degenerative damage in his right knee. Whatever they decide, it’s safe to assume Sabathia is finished for the season.
“I think that’s probably fair to say,” manager Joe Girardi said.
With significant cartilage damage, it’s possible Sabathia will need microfracture surgery, a pretty intense procedure that basically attempts to force the body to build new cartilage by drilling small holes into the bone. Several NBA players have had the procedure, including notable (and not necessarily encouraging) examples Amar’e Stoudemire and Greg Oden. In baseball, Matt Kemp had some microfracture work done to his ankle, Derek Holland is still working his way back from microfracture surgery on his knee, and former top prospect Jeff Clement has his career basically derailed by knee problems that he attempted to fix with a microfracture operation.
At the very least, it seems worth wondering whether this could cost Sabathia the rest of his career.
“I think it’s too early to predict that,” Girardi said. “Whenever you have degenerative issues that cause surgery or things like that, there’s always a little question, yeah.”
Frankly, we don’t even know that microfracture surgery is going to happen, it’s simply a possibility that’s looming. But the fact it’s entered into the discussion — along with the acknowledgement that the Yankees assume Sabathia’s done for the year — gives a sense of just how serious the situation has become (or always was).
“(Microfracture surgery) is always a possibility when you have a degenerative knee,” Girardi said. “That could be one of the steps. I’m not exactly sure if he was to have surgery what it’s going to be. That’s for them to determine, but that’s always a possibility. And that’s a surgery that a lot of players don’t want to hear that they need to have. It’s a pretty long rehab.”
• Girardi said he expects to have Brian McCann available as a pinch hitter if necessary. His left foot is sore, but McCann was able to play through it last night. No tests are scheduled and McCann is expected to be in the lineup again tomorrow.
• Routine day off for Derek Jeter. “He’s played seven days in a row,” Girardi said. “Day game after a night game. He played a day game after a night game the other day at home, so just a day off in a long stretch.”
• With a more typical right-hander on the mound for the Twins — one that doesn’t have the reverse splits of Phil Hughes — Zelous Wheeler is out of the lineup today. Of course, Wheeler was still a topic of pregame conversation, and Girardi said there was real consideration to carrying Wheeler out of spring training. “He was definitely in the conversation,” Girardi said. “We thought with the way our team was constructed and the way Solarte had swung the bat, that he had kind of earned the job, but Wheeler was definitely in the mix. And he was in the mix when he came. We talked about it, that this was a guy who could force his way onto our team or play his way onto our team during spring training or in the course of the season.”
• Any chance Chase Whitley’s recent starts are the product of mid-season fatigue? He’s already approaching his career high in innings. “I don’t know,” Girardi said. “I think it’s probably too easy to predict that, but I’m sure that conversation is going to come up because of the type of pitcher that he’s been in the past, being a reliever and never really throwing a ton of innings. I’m sure that’s going to come up. It’s probably something that we have to monitor and watch carefully and see where he’s at.”
• Today, all of baseball will commemorate the 75th anniversary of Lou Gehrig’s “luckiest man” speech. Unfortunately, while honoring Gehrig, the Yankees will be wearing ridiculous Fourth of July hats that are all red on top (some teams were given hats that are blue up top, those look much better). Brett Gardner coated his with baby powder. Said it made it look better.
Associated Press photos