TRENTON, N.J. -- CC Sabathia admits it's been tough to watch the Yankees play while he recovers from a right knee injury that has kept him on the disabled list since May 11, but the left-hander is getting closer to returning to a big league mound.
Sabathia said he felt good physically after his second Minor League rehab start on Wednesday and is on track in his progression from right knee inflammation. He made 55 pitches over 3 2/3 innings with Double-A Trenton against the Portland Sea Dogs, an increase from a 37-pitch outing on Saturday with Class A Advanced Tampa.
He was charged with five runs (three earned) on five hits. Sabathia struck out two, walked one and hit a batter. His fastball sat at 90-91 mph and he reached 94 mph in the first inning.
"I felt good. The secondary pitches weren't that good, but my fastball I felt was coming off pretty good," Sabathia said. "I feel good health-wise, so I'll be ready to go."
Sabathia said he did not know what his next step would be, though another rehab start appears likely. He's still building arm strength and working on his command.
"I need to work on my secondary pitches a little more," Sabathia said. "Changeup was cutting, slider wasn't as sharp as I wanted it to be, so we'll do some work on those things. But overall, I felt pretty good."
Sabathia said he's more concerned with how he feels at this point as opposed to results.
"Results, I guess, will come when they matter," he said. "Right now, I'm just trying to make sure that I can give max effort out there and not feel anything and be healthy."
After retiring the first batter he faced, Sabathia allowed a single through the left side of the infield and a double down the third-base line. He then got a pair of flyouts to center field to end the frame, one of which scored a run.
Sabathia recorded two flyouts to open the second, and he then hit a left-handed batter with a pitch. He got a ground ball to third to end the inning. In the third, Sabathia allowed a leadoff triple, walked the next batter then allowed a hard-hit double to straightaway center. He responded with a strikeout before making a nice barehand play on a chopper back to the mound for the third out. It was the only time Sabathia's knee was tested in the field.
With his pitch count at 43, Sabathia returned for the fourth inning. He faced four batters, striking out one. Not long after Trenton manager Tony Franklin removed Sabathia from the game, a heavy downpour started and a rain delay ensued.
"Perfect timing, perfect timing," Sabathia said with a smile. "I really wanted to face the hitters and not have to finish it up in the bullpen or on the side. So that was a good thing."
But watching the Yankees struggle to keep pace in the American League East race has not been a pleasant experience for Sabathia, who is itching to get back on the field and contribute.
"It's been tough to watch, man," he said. "We've been just trying to grind. But it's always hard when you're not there. It's hard to watch on TV, it's hard to listen to, so hopefully I can get back as soon as possible and start helping the guys."