After a lot of talk about CC Sabathia starting the season in the bullpen, it looks like the southpaw will make the New York Yankees’ starting rotation after all.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi announced Friday that Sabathia will open the season as the team’s No. 5 starter.
Sabathia is coming off a season where he went 6-10 with a 4.73 ERA. He missed the end of the season to seek treatment for alcoholism.
Once a Cy Young Award winner and ace for the Yankees, Sabathia has struggled for the last three seasons. He has battled knee problems and a decline in average fastball velocity, which have contributed to his drop-off as a pitcher.
The large lefty has posted a 5.51 ERA this spring training. He is getting the No. 5 starter job over Ivan Nova.
CC Sabathia may not have a spot in the starting rotation waiting for him.
According to ESPN’s Andrew Marchand, Sabathia is in a battle with Ivan Nova for the fifth and final spot in the Yankees’ rotation, and the team isn’t afraid to relegate him to the bullpen if Nova outpitches him.
“This is a hard decision,” said manager Joe Girardi. “CC has meant so much to this club. Nova has been here. It is something that has to be well thought out.”
Nova pitched Friday and didn’t really do himself any favors, allowing five earned runs in 4.2 innings against Baltimore, so the door is definitely not closed on Sabathia pitching his way into the starting rotation.
Sabathia is clearly in his decline phase – his 4.73 ERA in 2015 was actually the lowest he’s posted over the last three seasons. He’s also due $25 million in 2016 and another $25 million in 2017, provided he doesn’t encounter any left shoulder injuries before the option vests. Sabathia is trying to overcome an alcohol problem that ended his 2015 prematurely, but has struggled thus far during spring training, giving up twelve runs – eight of them earned – in 12.1 innings.
CC Sabathia has an interesting strategy to stay sober: go out with his teammates as much as possible.
Sabathia explained to reporters on Friday that he feels spending time out with his teammates is the best way to maintain his sobriety.
“That’s something I kind of got away from the past couple of years,” Sabathia said, via Brendan Kuty of NJ.com. “Just kind of shutting myself into my hotel room and doing my deed. I’ll be out with my teammates, hanging out with the guys in the same role when I first got here, very social.”
Sabathia recognizes that this is unconventional, but different strategies work for different people.
“It’s different strokes for different folks I guess,” Sabathia said. “Some people cut that out entirely. I was always — that’s why I think it was so shocking to some of the people that I was always able to do what I wanted, go to concerts or do different things and not pick up a drink. Once I got by myself away, that’s when I would drink. I think it’s easy for me to be out in those social settings, hanging out with my friends, not worried about what they’re doing. It’s more how I feel about it.”
Not every person’s addiction issue is the same, so if this is what works for Sabathia, more power to him, and hopefully it proves successful. He’s been optimistic about his progress after how his season ended and how severe the problems apparently were.
It has been more than four months since CC Sabathia left baseball to receive treatment for his alcohol abuse issue, and the New York Yankees pitcher says he is ready to focus on baseball again.
In an interview with the New York Daily News Thursday night, Sabathia said he is “excited” for his 16th MLB season.
“I’m definitely in a good place,” Sabathia said. “You’ve never got this thing beat; it’s always there and I’m always going to be a recovering alcoholic, but I’m in a good place. I’m excited about what’s coming ahead, not only in the season, but personally. I’m ready to go.”
Sabathia also spoke with the Daily News in November shortly after he left the Yankees for treatment. The team was beginning its playoff schedule at the time.
“To have all the support from them and the organization, it’s been fantastic,” he said. “When I talked to you last, I hadn’t seen everybody yet. I hadn’t been to the field. Getting all that support and love has been a lot of fun.
“Everybody was worried about me. To see me go through what I went through and come out on the other side a better person, I think everybody is excited. It was fun to get back and to be a part of the family.”
Sabathia added that his knee feels much better and his upper body feels stronger than it did when he compiled a 6-10 record with a 4.73 ERA last season.
When you consider the timing of Sabathia’s decision to enter rehab, you get an idea of how significant the problem was. Some of the disturbing revelations he made about the final week of the season also paint a dark picture. Hopefully he got the help he needs and can finish out his career on a high note.
Perhaps the most surprising aspect of CC Sabathia’s decision to enter an alcohol rehabilitation program was the timing, being that he left the Yankees just before their Wild Card playoff game against the Astros. But after what took place during New York’s final series of the regular season, Sabathia knew it couldn’t wait.
There have been reports that Sabathia decided to check into rehab after a bender in Baltimore. In a lengthy interview with Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News, Sabathia admitted his drinking behavior during that last series of the season was the final straw.
“I woke up on that Sunday and was like, ‘I can’t do this no more,'” the lefthander said. “I came in on Sunday and felt like I needed to get some help. I know it was bad timing, but I felt like if I didn’t tell somebody then, I would have been in real trouble.”
While Sabathia insists he never drank at the ballpark or in the clubhouse (some rumors have indicated otherwise), he admitted that he was feeling the effects of his alcohol use during the Yankees’ day-night doubleheader on Saturday, Oct. 3, as well as the following day.
“I probably was still drunk from the night before or hung over,” Sabathia said. “It happened quick.”
Sabathia maintains that his alcoholism never affected his ability to pitch or prepare for his starts, though it is hard to imagine that someone could go on benders and not experience any negative effects. Sabathia says he was always alone — typically at a team hotel — when he went on a bender and usually showed up to work the next day and tried to sweat it out.
“I could always come to the field, sweat everything out, do my running and do everything I had to do,” he explained. “I pretty much just hid it, would be walking around hung over and sick all the time and still going through the motions.”
The entire interview is worth reading. Sabathia also addressed the incident that took place outside a bar in Toronto, insisting that he wasn’t “obliterated or blasted” but admitting he would have reacted differently if he were sober.
Sabathia turned 35 in July, so returning to pitch at a high level after what he has gone through will not be easy. But if he continues along the path he recently started down, he certainly has a fighting chance.
A new report suggests that CC Sabathia surprisingly announced his intention to check into alcohol rehab after the matter came to a “crisis point” over the weekend.
ESPN’s Wallace Matthews reports that after the Yankees’ game with the Orioles was rained out on Friday, Sabathia was seen walking “unsteadily” and failed to respond to greetings from reporters.
Matthews then adds this:
A short time later, an onlooker noticed Sabathia offering a paper cup containing a brown liquid to a teammate who was finishing up a workout, urging the teammate to “take a sip.” The teammate refused, saying he still had some running to do. Sabathia was then ushered out of the building and into a waiting cab by a third teammate.
This coincides with a report from the New York Post, which says Sabathia went on a heavy bender over the weekend, prompting his decision to check into rehab. That report said the Yankees pitcher drank every day last week except for the day he pitched.
This isn’t the first time Sabathia was involved in an off-field matter, either. In August, he was filmed being restrained from a brawl outside a club in Toronto.
The abrupt announcement on Monday by Yankees lefty CC Sabathia that he would be leaving the team as their 2015 postseason run was about to kick off in order to attend alcohol rehab came as a major surprise. Now details are beginning to trickle in as to how Sabathia arrived at that decision.
According to a report by the New York Post on Tuesday, the 35-year-old decided on rehab after a bad bender this past weekend in Baltimore. Per the report:
“His drinking got really bad this weekend, and it put him in a really bad place,” said a source close to the team.
“He was afraid. He felt that if I don’t do this now and go into rehab, I don’t know what is going to happen.”
The last straw for Sabathia came during the team’s final regular-season series in Baltimore, where he spent most of his time pounding drinks at a hotel, the source said.
“He drank every day last week apart from the day he pitched,” the source said. “The tipping point was Friday when he was at the stadium. He carried on drinking Saturday.”
Additionally, The Post writes that while Sabathia is not known as a heavy drinker, he hooked the team up with booze and champagne on several occasions, including the playoff-clinching clubhouse party last week as well as the celebration for Alex Rodriguez’s 3000th hit. Sabathia is also said to have capped the weekend off by speaking with Yankees manager Joe Girardi and general manager Brian Cashman on Sunday saying that he needed help.
While the timing of Sabathia’s decision could not have come at a worse time for the Yankees, it takes a lot for someone to admit they have a problem and move quickly to address it and get treated before it gets even worse.
It’s especially so in Sabathia’s circumstances with the playoffs about to begin and the temptation to dismiss the bender as simply “a bad weekend,” so he definitely deserves props for his sense of urgency in getting the help he needs.
The 2007 AL Cy Young Award winner is dealing with something that’s bigger than baseball right now, and here’s hoping that we see a clean, healthy Sabathia out there on the mound again for the Yankees in 2016.