On Saturday, CC Sabathia will finally begin his road to recovery when he pitches in his first rehab assignment game since landing on the disabled list back on May 11.
Sabathia, originally diagnosed with knee inflammation and what turned into a degenerative knee condition, received stem-cell treatment with hopes of reversing the condition, a process that would likely take six weeks to go into full effect when happened.
The plan is for Sabathia to throw around 40-45 pitches in a start for Class A Tampa. The next start could go up to 60 pitches followed by 75. After that, Sabathia could be activated off the disabled list when the Yankees return from the All Star break, which goes from July 14-July 17, as Joe Girardi explained it on Friday night.
“You start to think he’s pretty close to getting back,’’ Girardi said. “This next start is 40 to 45 pitches, the start after that 60 and the one after that is 75, and you try to build him up. The important thing to me is that he’s able to bounce back and the knee is not an issue and doesn’t get in the way. If it doesn’t, we could have him back.’’
Getting Sabathia back for the Yankees second half run towards the postseason would be a huge boost to a team that is in full need of starting pitching as the July 31 trade deadline approaches. Even if Sabathia comes back, the team will still look to acquire a starter; some feel Cliff Lee of the Philadelphia Phillies is the most logical choice given his contract and skill.
Before landing on the disabled list, Sabathia was 3-4 with a 5.26 ERA and finally reported to the team that his knee was bothering him after his last start back on May 10 against the Milwaukee Brewers; a start in which he allowed four runs in 5.1 innings and the very next day, Sabathia landed on the disabled list with the knee inflammation. Girardi thought that the knee could have been already injured well before he said something to the team.
“I know it was bothering him the last three or four starts,” Girardi said. “He didn’t tell us about it after the first start. I’m hoping that this little break will help him, that he will be physically better, stronger. There was a little weakness in there before. Our hope is that he’ll be better and he’ll be strong and he’ll anchor this rotation.’’
With Masahiro Tanaka and Hiroki Kuroda staples in the Yankees rotation, Girardi would have to choose between rookie Chase Whitley, David Phelps or Vidal Nuno as far as who he would want to remove from the rotation once Sabathia returns from the disabled list next month.
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