Standing at his locker after a 36-pitch bullpen this morning, CC Sabathia was sweating. This was not playing catch. This was not tossing a few fastballs nice and easy. This was his normal pregame warmup, throwing all of his pitches, pitching as if getting ready to make a start.
“I got after it a little bit, and I have been in the bullpens,” he said. “This is the time to test it, and I will when I’m down there in Tampa. It’s not just like rehabbing, I really do need to test it to see if I can do it. I feel like I feel pretty good.”
Working his way back from a stem-cell injection meant to help repair some degenerative damage in his right knee. He’s wearing a brace and said he feels a noticeable difference from the way he felt earlier this season. He’s planning to fly to Tampa tomorrow, face hitters in live batting practice on Tuesday, and he plans to pitch in some sort of minor league game on Saturday.
“I feel good,” Sabathia said. “I’m optimistic. I feel like I’ll be able to go. If I didn’t I would be out there trying to put us through this, because I know how much it affected me, how good it didn’t feel. Just putting the team in a bad spot. But I feel good.”
Joe Girardi said the Yankees are “encouraged” by Sabathia’s progress. The Yankees have previously said Sabathia’s not likely to be back until after the All-Star break, which is three weeks from Tuesday. Sabathia said he doesn’t have an exact time table for his return, but he’s hoping he needs fewer than five rehab starts (a number he seemed to pluck out of the air, just saying he felt he might not need too many minor league games before being big league ready).
“I’ve been sitting around here just feeling sorry for myself, just watching the team grind,” Sabathia said. “It’s tough. You want to be out there helping these guys, so I feel better that I do have a little light where I can see hopefully getting out there, helping.”