Slimmed down CC loses velocity

March, 1, 2014
3/01/14
6:14
PM ET
TAMPA, Fla. -- The fastball of the slimmed-down CC Sabathia topped out at 88 mph, which was three miles less than its diminished state from 2013.

Afterward, Sabathia didn't want to delve too deep into the issue. He does not know if his fastball will gain speed later in spring -- which, of course, is possible -- but he does think however hard he throws, he can be effective.

"My fastball is what it is," said Sabathia, who became less jovial when the velocity subject was broached by reporters. "If it gets better, it will. If not, it won't. I can pitch. I'm fine. As long as I am healthy, I'll be good."

[+] EnlargeCC Sabathia
Kim Klement/USA TODAY SportsCC Sabathia's decreased velocity is a storyline to follow -- again -- this spring.
Sabathia allowed just two hits in his two scoreless innings -- and he is right. He could be effective at 88 because he is a smart pitcher who could have a renaissance and become more of an older Andy Pettitte-type lefty, relying on guile and outwitting batters.

But it is another story regarding if he can be a true No. 1 again, especially if he doesn't have the heat that allows a pitcher to be less fine with his stuff.

When Sabathia entered camp, he addressed his dramatic weight loss.

Sabathia said he lost the weight through a combination of cutting out carbohydrates and increasing the intensity of his workouts. But he acknowledged that the rapid weight loss (he dropped 30 of the 40 pounds before last season) may have contributed to his subpar 2013 season, when his fastball -- which once averaged more than 94 mph -- dropped to about 91 mph.

"I think it was just losing that much weight and trying to play a professional sport," Sabathia said. "I probably did it the wrong way going into a baseball season last year. I was joking in there with [trainer Stevie Donohue] that I felt like 'The Biggest Loser' last year.


Joe Girardi -- who will play down most issues, and especially ones that are still inconclusive such as this one -- tried to say there was nothing to see.

"That is something that people wanted to make a ton about last year," Girardi said. "I'm not going to make much of it. If he is downhill, locating, I don't care what his velocity is. He is going to get people out."

Girardi said that Sabathia's "downhill plain" made him believe that Sabathia looked very good. In the end, conclusions can't be drawn from one spring training start on the first day of March, but it is definitely something that must be watched as training camp continues -- even if the big man doesn't like it.

OVERTIME: Hiroki Kuroda pitched so well he had to do extra work following his two scoreless innings. The Yankees had Kuroda slated to throw 35 pitches, but he needed just 17 to get through the Phillies, so he was sent to the bullpen afterward to finish out his day.

Girardi and Larry Rothschild didn't want to send Kuroda out for a third inning because then Masahiro Tanaka would have had to sit after warming up.

CAPTAIN COMEBACK: It will take a lot for Derek Jeter to be just a note this year, but it happened Saturday. Jeter played six innings without incident. He started a nice double play in which he fielded a ball on the second base side of second, tagged a runner, then threw to first. He went 0-for-2 and reached on an error. He also scored a run.
Andrew Marchand is a senior writer for ESPNNewYork. He also regularly contributes to SportsCenter, Baseball Tonight, ESPNews, ESPN New York 98.7 FM and ESPN Radio. He joined ESPN in 2007 after nine years at the New York Post. Follow Andrew on Twitter »

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TEAM LEADERS

WINS LEADER
Masahiro Tanaka
WINS ERA SO IP
13 2.77 141 136
OTHER LEADERS
BAJ. Ellsbury .271
HRB. McCann 23
RBIB. McCann 75
RB. Gardner 87
OPSB. Gardner .749
ERAH. Kuroda 3.71
SOH. Kuroda 146