Now real work begins for CC, Yanks
Sabathia eagerly awaiting Opening Day start in Baltimore
TAMPA, Fla. -- CC Sabathia dodged an early bullet in his final tuneup start before the regular season, but he proclaimed himself ready to step up and get the Yankees' year rolling.
The left-handed ace was struck in the meaty part of his glove hand by a Jason Ellison line drive in the second inning on Wednesday, drawing gasps from the home dugout. But Sabathia stayed in the game, hurling 3 2/3 innings of two-run ball in the Yankees' 8-5 victory over the Phillies.
"I'm ready to get the season started," Sabathia said. "I feel good. I'm just going to get my work in and go forward."
In his first spring after signing a seven-year, $161 million contract, Sabathia stepped up as a leader in the clubhouse, organizing field trips for teammates to Orlando Magic NBA games, restaurants and fishing excursions.
But what the Yankees brought Sabathia in to do was pitch, and he got through the Grapefruit League tests fine.
Scattering six hits in a scaled-back 70-pitch (44 for strikes) outing on Wednesday, Sabathia finished with a 3-1 record and a 4.26 ERA in five starts, walking three and striking out 21 in 19 innings.
His next start will come on Monday against the Orioles in Baltimore, and manager Joe Girardi has also named Sabathia the Bombers' starter for April 16 in New York, the first regular-season game at the new Yankee Stadium.
"The whole club really played very well in Spring Training," Girardi said. "We've still got a couple of games to go, but CC was great. You just go down the line. Guys played really well and really hard and did a lot of good things."
Sabathia said that he did not come into camp with any expectations, and perhaps some of the drama that might have been anticipated was overblown. Especially for the past three weeks, Yankees camp was much quieter and much more baseball-focused than in some years.
"I guess it was calm -- that's what everyone is telling me," Sabathia said. "It was a good spring, a normal spring, just coming in here and getting to meet some of the guys."
Sabathia will board a charter and head to the new Yankee Stadium for the first time since he signed his contract in December, inspecting what was then very much a construction site.
Now, the ballpark awaits its Opening Day starter. With a workout on tap for Thursday afternoon in the Bronx, Sabathia said he can't wait to kick the mound and see how it feels.
"We're going to have a lot of fun," Sabathia said. "We've got a pretty good team. If we can go out and stay together and have fun and play the game well, I think we'll be fine."
Bombers bits: Xavier Nady (bruised left elbow) was a late precautionary scratch from the Yankees' lineup on Wednesday. Girardi said he expects Nady to play Friday vs. the Cubs. ... Hideki Matsui (stiff neck) returned to the lineup and went 2-for-3 with a two-run homer. ... The Yankees completed the Grapefruit League schedule 22-10-1.
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.