NEW YORK -- CC Sabathia will make his second rehab start for the Double-A Trenton Thunder against the Portland Sea Dogs tomorrow night, and the fact that he is coming back on three days' rest might be an indication of how badly the Yankees want him back, and how soon.
Sabathia worked 2-1/3 innings for the Class A Tampa Yankees on Saturday, allowing two runs on three hits and a walk, and striking out two. Joe Girardi said Sabathia's low pitch count (36) that day allowed the Yankees to bring him back a day early, but that any subsequent rehab starts -- he will need at least two more to stretch himself out to a minimum of 75 pitches -- will be on a regular five-day schedule.
New York Yankees
Sabathia was in the Yankees' clubhouse before tonight's game against the Rays and admitted he is eager to return, but said it was virtually impossible for him to come back before everyone is satisfied that he is ready.
"I don’t think [trainer Stevie Donohue] is going to let me rush myself back," he said, laughing. "If it was up to me I’d [have] already been back. But it’s just one step at a time and [I've] been feeling good, so I’m excited."
Sabathia, who has been on the DL since May 11 with inflammation in his right knee, said his biggest hurdle was just getting back to throwing off a mound again, and demonstrating to himself that he had the mobility to move around on the field without pain. Sabathia had a cortisone shot in the knee, which was surgically repaired after a torn meniscus following the 2010 season, as well as a stem-cell treatment administered by Dr. James Andrews.
"I've had no problems," he said. "I had a couple of balls where I had to get off the mound and move over and stuff, and it felt fine."
A bigger problem has been watching the Yankees struggle in his absence; they are 22-24 since his last start, a Yankees loss to the Brewers on May 10 in Milwaukee. "It sucks," he said. "Just sitting around and not being a part of the team and they’re out here grinding, it’s been tough. It just sucks sitting here watching how tough it is."
The Yankees transferred Sabathia to the 60-day disabled list today, a bookkeeping move that insures he cannot return until July 11, although he has not been expected to be reactivated before the All-Star break anyway. When he does come back, Sabathia -- who was 3-4 with a 5.28 ERA at the time of his injury -- has a simple goal for himself over the rest of the season: "To make the kind of impact I did in my first couple of years here. Hopefully I can get back to that."
New York Yankees
Deal him out: The Yankees will be without Dellin Betances tonight and probably tomorrow afternoon, as well. Although the 26-year-old righty has thrown just 48 innings, his 35 appearances are second only to Adam Warren's 37, and Joe Girardi indicated he saw signs of fatigue in Betances on Monday night, when he walked two batters in the eighth inning, one of whom scored when David Robertson allowed a base hit. Betances said he was failing to finish his pitches, which Girardi said could be a sign that Betances, in his first full year as a reliever, might be showing some wear and tear.
"I watch him very carefully and the amount of pitches that he throws," Girardi said. "He can come in and tell me he feels good, and I’ll say, 'OK, great. It’s good that you feel good.’ But I'll still give him two days off. My job is to get the most out of him, but my job is also to protect him from himself, and I will do that.”
Sleeping in: Girardi gave his team an unusually late report time, 5 p.m., for tonight's 7:05 start, and cancelled on-field batting practice after two late games in a row. Players took optional BP in the indoor cage.
"We played till midnight Sunday night, we played how late last night, at some point you just figure that -- every once in a while you'll have a day off from BP," he said. "If we can't hit BP, we're in trouble."
Bye-bye, Jose. Hello Jim: The Yankees optioned RHP Jose Ramirez, who took the loss in Monday night's 4-3 12-inning loss to the Rays, back to Triple-A Scranton and recalled RHP Jim Miller, who had a 4-2 record and 2.85 ERA in 26 relief appearances for the RailRiders.
"He's been in the big leagues before," Girardi said. "We're aware of what he can do and we felt that we needed a pitcher today with as much as we've had to use our bullpen, and the extra innings last night."
Price is right: Tonight's Rays starter, David Price, is 9-5 with a 3.84 ERA in 22 career starts against the Yankees, and 5-2, 3.93 in 11 starts at Yankee Stadium. But Price has yet to beat them this year, taking the loss April 17 in St. Petersburg and a no decision May 2 here, a game eventually won by the Rays, 10-5. Interestingly, Brian McCann, given the night off by Giradi, has faced Price eight times in his career, with four hits, two of them home runs.
No Hiro against the Rays: Yankees starter Hiroki Kuroda is 2-3 with a 6.94 ERA vs. Tampa Bay in six career starts, and 1-1, 6.94 at Yankee Stadium. In fact, Kuroda's 6.94 ERA vs. the Rays is his highest ERA against any opposing team. Evan Longoria is 7-for-17 (.412) lifetime against Kuroda, and Matt Joyce (6-for-16, .375) has hit three home runs off him.