2015 spring training officially opens at George M. Steinbrenner Field
"CC Sabathia’s surgically repaired right knee houses a degenerative condition he hopes to control by exercise, injections and possibly draining.
After playing the past two seasons at 295 pounds, the veteran lefty arrived at Yankees spring training weighing in at 305, believing the added 10 pounds puts him in a position to feel better.
Welcome to the Yankees’ former ace’s world as he prepares to rebound from a dreadful 2014 in which he worked eight games before the knee required arthroscopic surgery.
The road back began this winter with a throwing program, and Sabathia was in the first group of pitchers throwing off a bullpen mound Saturday when the Yankees officially opened spring training with pitchers and catchers going through drills at George M. Steinbrenner Field. It was Sabathia’s second bullpen session and the first one outdoors.
“It’s a bum knee. It’s degenerative, there is nothing we can do about it,’’ Sabathia said of his knee that underwent surgery, is lacking in cartilage underneath, has required four platelet-rich plasma injections to keep the fluid out and faces the possibility of being drained if the fluid returns. “We are not going to try micro fracture or invasive surgery right now. Keep the maintenance and make sure it’s good enough every day to go out and play.’’
Sabathia said the three PRP injections, the last of which he received recently, should be good enough to carry him to the All Star break before another is needed.
Saturday he threw 25 pitches to John Ryan Murphy, didn’t favor the knee and was pleased with the exercise.
“It felt well, no problem,’’ Sabathia said. “I’ll take two days off and throw another one.’’
Sabathia, who turns 35 in July, has rinsed away last year and called 2013 “terrible’’ even though he was 14-13 and threw 211 innings coming off elbow surgery (bone spur) and working with a fastball that didn’t creep much above 90 mph.
“For me it was [terrible],’’ Sabathia said. “Maybe that’s what I am.’’
For a pitcher with Sabathia’s career, those numbers might be hard to accept, but if you told Joe Girardi the left-hander would give him that type of season this year, the manager would jump at it.
That’s because since beating the Orioles with a complete-game effort in Game 5 of the 2012 ALDS, Sabathia is a pedestrian 17-18 with a 4.97 ERA in 58 games.
“I wanted to come here with a clear mind and pitch,’’ said Sabathia, who was examined by a doctor Friday and won’t be held out of any activities. “I felt I passed every test.’’
Asked if he can return to being the staff ace, Sabathia said, “I have no idea, I am just happy to be here.’’
Considering the Yankees owe Sabathia $53 million for the next two years and could be on the hook for a $25 million vesting option in 2017, it would lessen the anxiety level if the former ace repeated his 211 innings of 2013 instead of throwing just 46 innings like last year.
After losing close to 40 pounds following the 2012 season, Sabathia has gone from 295 to 305 since last season.
“I lost that weight because I had a cousin die from heart disease,’’ explained Sabathia, who some felt the decreasing velocity was attributed to the drop in weight.
“Now I feel good where I am at. I feel a little stronger, I feel my legs under me.’’
Time, of course, will tell a lot more than the first bullpen session of camp.
“You really have to get into it and the rigors of 100 innings and throwing every fifth day but so far the signs that we have seen are positive,’’ Girardi said."
2/21/15, "Girardi signing some autographs before today's workout, Erik Boland twitter Tweet Stumbleupon StumbleUpon