Print and Go Back ESPN.com: New York Yankees [Print without images]

Sunday, July 21, 2013
First Pitch: CC must be an ace

By Andrew Marchand



BOSTON -- CC Sabathia's assessment of his 2013 is like one a caller might make on a sports talk show or a commenter would make on the bottom of a web story. There is no gray area, no real nuance in how he describes his 9-8, 4.07 ERA.

"I'm still terrible and disappointed," Sabathia said.

Sabathia -- who calls himself his own worst critic -- is being a little too harsh on himself. While he hasn't been his typical self or the ace of the Yankees, he has not been bad enough to sound like Bill Walton.

No doubt, though, Sabathia must be better, if the Yankees are going to make a run into October. Joe Girardi agrees with the premise that the Yankees must hit more, but it is the pitching performing even better that could be the difference between being in or out of the playoffs.

In an effort to clear his mind from the lost velocity and the 21 homers in the first half, Sabathia spent the All-Star break inoculated from the sports world. He went to St. Barths and turned off "SportsCenter."

Normally the biggest sports fan in the clubhouse, he wasn't in front of the set when Mariano Rivera had his sentimental night or when Robinson Cano got nailed by a Matt Harvey fastball.

"I didn't know anything," Sabathia said. "I was in a nice little bubble. It was good."

Sabathia and pitching coach Larry Rothschild think they may have found the problem for some of his struggles. His arm angle, Sabathia said, has been too low on his delivery. To try to correct this problem, Sabathia has begun a new drill where he spreads his legs wide when he begins playing catch. It is designed to force him to use his upper body more and get on top of the ball.

"I'm hoping that'll help me out," Sabathia said.

UP NOW: Ian Begley has the latest on Alex Rodriguez. Johnette Howard has a column on A-Rod. I detail how the Yankees used Joe Girardi's formula to perfection Saturday. Plus, Red Sox fans give Mariano Rivera a standing ovation.

ON DECK: Yankees versus Red Sox on Sunday Night Baseball. Game time is 8 p.m. on ESPN, WatchESPN and ESPN Radio. Sabathia (9-8, 4.07) will face Ryan Dempster (5-8, 4.24). Johnette Howard and I will have you covered right here on ESPNNewYork.com

QUESTION OF THE DAY: What do you expect from CC in the second half?