- Matt Ehalt, ESPN New York contributor
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Yankees pitcher C.C. Sabathia opted Tuesday not to comment about the recent reports that alleged that Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez purchased and used performing-enhancing drugs from a Miami clinic. Sabathia hasn't spoken with Rodriguez since the story broke.
"I'm going to take (Derek Jeter)'s stance and wait until he comments and just wait to see what happens," Sabathia said before he was honored at the Thurman Munson Awards in New York City on Tuesday.
While the Yankees ace didn't want to speak about his teammate, he acknowledged that performance-enhancing drugs continue to plague baseball.
"It's just part of it. It's unfortunately been part of the game and something we're working to take care of and clean up," Sabathia said. "You're going to have these things from time to time."
As Rodriguez deals with this latest off-the-field controversy, his status for the season is in question as he had left-hip surgery in January. The Yankees said the timetable for the injury will be four to six months, but General Manager Brian Cashman said there's a chance Rodriguez could miss the whole year.
Sabathia, however, fully expects Rodriguez to be playing for the Yankees this season.
"Of course. Why not?" Sabathia said. "When he's healthy, he's a big part of our team. Yeah we want him to be healthy and come back and help us win."
He added: "I would be surprised (if Rodriguez doesn't play). I know how hard he works and how much he cares about wanting to play and wanting to help the team. I look forward to him doing everything he can to get back on the field and trying to help us."
Like Rodriguez, Sabathia enters this season coming off surgery, although there's no indications that he will miss any time. After spending time on the disabled list last year with a sore elbow, Sabathia had arthroscopic surgery to remove a bone spur on his left elbow in October.
The southpaw said he feels pretty good and is looking forward to getting on the mound and testing his elbow out. He doesn't expect to be that far behind the other pitchers in spring training and won't change up his routine.
"I'm going to try to go out and do the same deal," Sabathia said. "The past couple of years I've been kind of taking it a little easier in spring training, make sure I get enough work in but not try to overdo it. Just take that approach and see how it feels."
When Sabathia signed with the Yankees, he was part of a huge free-agent signing bonanza that also included first baseman Mark Teixeira. As part of the Yankees plan to get under $189 million for the future, the team barely made a splash this offseason, resigning veterans and bringing in Kevin Youkilis.
Sabathia said he was surprised with the Yankees' inactivity, but still believes a team is in place to compete in the American League.
"I still think we have a team to go out and compete and try to win a championship," he said.
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