CC welcomes buzz of opener
Yankees' ace ready to put rustiness of spring in past
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- In CC Sabathia's mind, there is no substitute for the sensation of seeing a packed house, with all eyes upon him and the responsibilities of being an ace cradled securely in his left hand.
To that point, Spring Training couldn't be ending quickly enough. Sabathia's sixth and final Grapefruit League start didn't go smoothly, as the Braves rapped him for five runs in 4 2/3 innings at Champion Stadium on Tuesday, but Sabathia shrugged it off.
"I'm just trying to get out and feel good," Sabathia said. "The changeup was up, and I was just kind of all over the place with the two-seamer. It was one of those days, but I got my work in. I'll go work in the bullpen and try to get it corrected before Sunday."
At 8:05 p.m. ET on Sunday, Sabathia will be assigned the task of handling the Red Sox in Major League Baseball's season opener at Fenway Park, taking the honors of his seventh career Opening Day start and his second as a Yankee.
"I think he loves having the ball in big situations -- the challenge of it," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "I think he enjoys it. You can just see it. He loves that competitive feeling, going out there and being in a big game, whether it was a playoff game or a game down the stretch. You could see that he really loved it."
Tuesday's workload was just practice, as Sabathia got up to 75 pitches of eight-hit ball with a walk and three strikeouts before being relieved by switch-pitcher Pat Venditte.
While noting that Sabathia's four-seam fastball must be better by Sunday as well, catcher Jorge Posada said that the left-hander will get the adrenaline he needs from the atmosphere. The one pitch Posada really wanted back against the Braves was the two-run homer that Clint Sammons deposited onto the grassy left-field berm in the fourth inning.
"The pitch selection was my fault," Posada said. "That's my mistake. I've got to be smarter than that; the kid got jammed in the first at-bat and he hit it out."
Entering what was a 19-win season, Sabathia drew the Opening Day honors for the Yankees last April 6 at Baltimore (a 10-5 loss) and also the first start at the new Yankee Stadium on April 16 (a 10-2 loss to the Cleveland Indians).
Those results might not be what Sabathia wants to put at the top of his pinstriped resume, but it all worked out in the end, as the Yankees celebrated their 27th World Series title.
"You want to do it again, and this is the first step," Sabathia said. "It's Opening Day, we open the season, so you always get a little bit of butterflies. Last year was a lot, being new to the Yankees, but you still get the Opening Day jitters.
"It's going to be exciting. It's always exciting when you're going to Boston. I'm definitely going to have to keep my emotions in check and stay calm, and throw strikes."
Teixeira seeks treatment for sore elbow
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira sent manager Joe Girardi a text message on Tuesday, telling him that he felt "sore" and was headed to George M. Steinbrenner Field for treatment.
Teixeira was hit in the right elbow by a pitch Monday from Orioles starter Jeremy Guthrie, and is slated to spend most of the afternoon in the trainer's room. Teixeira said that he will be re-evaluated Wednesday and expects to be in the lineup on Thursday against the Blue Jays in Dunedin.
"It's just going to be sore for a couple days," Teixeira said.
Weber's dream spring cut short
TAMPA, Fla. -- Jon Weber hung on until almost the very end, laying claim to the feel-good story of Yankees camp and coming oh-so-tantalizingly-close to earning a trip north for the start of the big league season.
Weber's spring to remember came to an end on Tuesday, as the Yankees reassigned the 32-year-old outfielder to Minor League camp after a 5-3 win over the Blue Jays. Weber led the Yankees in hitting for most of the spring and won over many with his strong attitude, but his left-handed stroke did not fit the club's needs.
"It was the best time of my life, my career," Weber said. "I made it to the final week with the New York Yankees. I'm not right-handed, I'm left-handed. I've just got to stay positive, stay focused and hopefully, one day I'll get the call."
The Yankees also reassigned outfielder David Winfree on Tuesday, making it a near-lock that right-handed-hitting veteran Marcus Thames has made the club as a fifth outfielder. But after 11 seasons riding buses and eating bad food in the Minors, Weber came just about as close to wearing pinstripes as possible.
"He's an interesting guy," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "He did great stuff and has persevered in his career. He did everything he could. He's definitely opened eyes for sure. The young man can hit, and his attitude is tremendous. He's a fighter."
Weber took an 0-for-4 collar on Wednesday, dropping his spring average to .483 (14-for-29) with four doubles and six RBIs. With Curtis Granderson and Brett Gardner both left-handed -- plus switch-hitters Nick Swisher and Randy Winn also on the club -- Weber said that he understood he might have been fighting the longest odds in camp.
"I'm 5-foot-8, I'm 32 years old and I've never been in the big leagues," Weber said. "Of course the odds are against me. But I didn't try to set myself up thinking I was going to make the team. I just try to be a good teammate, a good clubhouse guy and try to be myself. I think I did a good job."
One year after Weber narrowly missed making the Rays' roster on the final day of camp, Girardi said that Weber was sent to Triple-A with the reminder that he needs to be ready for a possible callup if there is a need.
Last season, as Girardi told Weber, the Yankees' catching tandem was made up of Francisco Cervelli and Kevin Cash, a Double-A prospect and a non-roster spring invitee. Weber never got the callup he may have deserved last season, but things could be different in 2010.
"You've got to be ready," Weber said. "Just because I didn't make the team doesn't mean that I'm not in their plans. Anything can happen. Hopefully, nobody does get injured, but there are injuries in this game. If they call me, I've got to prepare myself to be ready."
Yankees' Aceves day-to-day
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Yankees reliever Alfredo Aceves is sidelined with a lower back issue that has periodically nagged him dating back to last September, but manager Joe Girardi believes the right-hander will pitch again this spring.
Aceves had been scheduled to pitch Tuesday, but he will instead be shut down for an indefinite period of time. Girardi said that Aceves is considered day-to-day, but he needs to get Aceves into a game this week; if not, beginning the season on the disabled list is a possibility.
"I think it will calm down," Girardi said. "It had calmed down a lot from Sunday to Monday."
Girardi has described Aceves' issue as disc-related, something that sent him to see specialists in January for relief. Girardi said that if Aceves can pitch this week, he'd be ready to face the Red Sox on April 4 at Fenway Park.
"It's just something you have to monitor and stay on top of," Girardi said. "[We need to] make sure that he stays on top of his exercises and everything he needs to do to keep him as healthy as you can."
Should Aceves need to begin the season on the DL, left-hander Boone Logan appears to be a leading candidate to replace him on the roster. The 25-year-old has a 2.25 ERA in eight Grapefruit League innings, striking out five and walking one. Non-roster invitee Royce Ring has also been considered.
Swisher pleased to snap skid
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Nick Swisher isn't shy about admitting it -- when his third-inning opposite-field home run off the Braves' Kenshin Kawakami cleared the wall during Tuesday's 9-6 Yankees loss at Champion Stadium, there was a small sense of relief.
"I needed that -- I hadn't hit one all spring, and I wasn't trying to force it," Swisher said. "To be able to hit one to the back side, that means everything is in line. Everything is where it needs to be. If you're hitting the ball the opposite way with power and force, I think your swing is right where it needs to be."
The Yankees haven't been fretting about Swisher, 29, who slugged 29 home runs and drove in 82 runs while spending most of last season as New York's starting right fielder.
But even Swisher had to offer a tongue-in-cheek laugh that his first Grapefruit League homer came on the road, after he hit 21 of those blasts while wearing gray pants in 2009.
"Surprise," Swisher said. "It's going to change this year. It's a totally different swing, a totally different approach. I'm glad to get this thing going, man. I'm really excited."
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.