TAMPA, Fla. -- CC Sabathia does not believe that packing on a few pounds was responsible for bloating his second-half ERA last season, but the Yankees ace says he won't allow that to be an excuse this year.
Sabathia reported to Spring Training on Sunday at a more svelte 290 pounds, close to where he was around this time last spring, and said that he had to drop about 10 to 15 pounds to get there.
"It's up to me to make sure I get a good routine, keep it and maintain it through the whole season," Sabathia said. "It's just something that's up to me to maintain, and I've got a lot of help around here, so it shouldn't be hard."
Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said that he discussed weight with Sabathia after the hurler's five-year, $122 million contract extension was finalized. Manager Joe Girardi and head athletic trainer Steve Donohue also sat in on the Yankee Stadium meeting.
"It's just trying to put yourself in a position to know on a daily basis what's good and what's not good for you," Cashman said. "So we had those conversations, and CC's never let us down.
"He's the type of person that's fully committed, so I think the only hard part is to have those conversations. The easy part is watching him follow through."
While the Yankees had no complaints with Sabathia's 2011 season as a whole -- 19-8 with a 3.00 ERA in 33 starts -- they are curious if his weight gain had anything to do with a tailspin down the stretch.
In nine starts from Aug. 6 through the end of the season, Sabathia was 3-3 with a 4.30 ERA, permitting opponents to bat .314 against him. Prior to that Aug. 6 start at Fenway Park, Sabathia was 16-5 with a 2.55 ERA in 24 starts, and opponents batted just .233 against him.
The idea has also been floated that pitching through two rain delays in late July took something out of Sabathia's arm, something the lefty denies.
Offered Cashman: "No one has those answers. The best you can do is try to eliminate possibilities."
Sabathia's new contract with the Yankees did not include a weight clause, and Cashman said that he believes them to be counterproductive, recalling that they didn't work well in the cases of former Yankees Bob Wickman and Jim Leyritz.
"Guys would starve themselves two days before to make the weight, and then cost us a game because he shouldn't have even been out there competing," Cashman said.
Instead, Sabathia will work with strength coach Dana Cavalea on making wise choices, especially when the Yankees travel.
"Our schedule is so crazy -- we wake up at all kinds of crazy hours, and go to bed at crazy hours," Sabathia said. "It's up to me to make sure I get a good routine, keep it, and maintain it through the whole season."
Pinstriped paths of CC, A.J. diverged
TAMPA, Fla. -- CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett were linked from the very beginning. While they tried on their first pinstripes, the sign board atop the old Yankee Stadium shot one of its last messages toward the Major Deegan Expressway: "LET'S PLAY TWO -- CC & A.J."
And now only Sabathia remains. That news conference, one of the last events at the old Stadium, led to a 2009 World Series win at the new palace. But the excitement faded after two disappointing follow-up years from Burnett.
As Yankees pitchers and catchers reported on Sunday, Burnett was instead taking his physical to become a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates, and Sabathia glanced toward the area where Burnett's locker used to be.
"It's tough. We came into this thing together, and it's just tough to see him go," Sabathia said. "But I think it's the best for him, and we just move on. It's part of the game, he's been around a long time, and I think he understands. A change of scenery; sometimes that does well for guys, and hopefully that can do well for him."
On Sunday, the Yankees sent Burnett to the Pirates in exchange for two Minor Leaguers, right-handed reliever Diego Moreno, 25, and outfielder Exicardo Cayones, 20.
The Pirates will pay $13 million of the remaining $33 million on Burnett's contract, a deal that Burnett officially inked while sitting next to Sabathia, pressing pen to paper on George M. Steinbrenner's old desk in the Bronx.
Sabathia said that he reached out to Burnett with a text message this week, but they haven't yet spoken about the trade.
"Our families got really close; our kids, our wives, so it'll be tough," Sabathia said. "But like I said, hopefully he stays healthy, and it works out for the best for him."
Kuroda eager to win with Yankees
TAMPA, Fla. -- The Yankees have wanted to put Hiroki Kuroda in pinstripes for quite some time, and they nearly had the veteran right-hander at last year's Trade Deadline before he invoked a no-trade clause.
But they got their man in the end, as the 37-year-old Kuroda agreed to a one-year, $10 million contract, heading to the American League after completing four seasons with the Dodgers.
"I was wearing a Dodgers uniform the first day of Spring Training, so I decided to [try to] win the championship with my teammates wearing the same uniform," Kuroda said. "It was really hard for me to change my mind and play for some other team. I wanted to be with the team I started with."
It was apparent this winter, though, that the Dodgers were ready to part ways and would not be bringing Kuroda back. Managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner pushed the Yankees' budget to include Kuroda, who was 13-16 with a 3.07 ERA in 32 starts for Los Angeles last year.
"I was just so flattered and honored to get an offer from such a great team as the Yankees," Kuroda said. "This team not only represents the game of baseball, but it's one of the prominent teams worldwide in any sport. It's obviously a team that always wins, and I wanted to have a chance to win the championship."
The Yankees weren't sure that Kuroda would pan out for them; general manager Brian Cashman said he wasn't sure if he would have signed veteran Freddy Garcia in December if the team had known they'd obtain both Kuroda and right-hander Michael Pineda in January.
"It's a fair question, but I'm glad we have [Garcia] and I think we're going to need all hands on deck," Cashman said. "That's the way it usually works."
Kuroda said that he turned down richer financial offers from other teams to be with the Yankees, and said that he prefers pitching on a one-year contract at this point in his career.
"It fits my style to go year to year," Kuroda said. "I want to give 100 percent every year to the team I'm going to play for. You never know what's going to happen in this game."
Yankees closer Mariano Rivera will be permitted to arrive later than the team's other pitchers, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said. "What am I going to do? It's Mariano Rivera," Cashman said. "He knows what he needs to do." ... Cashman said that right-hander Michael Pineda will not be the No. 2 starter to begin the season, but he will begin the season on the Major League roster. ... Catcher Francisco Cervelli has been cleared for all activities following last year's concussion issues. ... Left-hander Pedro Feliciano is a long shot to pitch at all in 2012, though Cashman said it's possible he could see some time in September. ... Right-hander Brad Meyers, a Rule 5 Draft selection in December, suffered a shoulder injury lifting weights and will be behind in Spring Training. ... Outfielder Andruw Jones will arrive in camp early after having arthroscopic left knee surgery in November.