DETROIT -- CC Sabathia never opened the box that contains his 2009 World Series ring, which is stashed somewhere within a closet of his New Jersey home. He felt no urgency to admire it at the time, believing that there would be more celebrations in his Yankees future.
Now as Sabathia enters the final weeks of his career, the left-hander says that the promise of another championship is all that fuels his desire to continue pitching through a degenerative right knee condition that will require replacement surgery at some point in the future.
“That’s the only thing,” Sabathia said. “I think if this team wasn’t in position to win a championship, I probably would have had surgery a long time ago.”
Sabathia will be activated from the injured list to start on Wednesday against the Tigers at Comerica Park, strapping on his bulky brace to end his third knee-related IL stint of the year. Detroit will counter with left-hander Matthew Boyd in a 6:40 p.m. ET contest that can be seen live on MLB.TV.
Asked how his knee is feeling, Sabathia chuckled and offered a tell-tale wince; on a pain scale of 1-10, it now registers an eight, which Sabathia has accepted as his new normal.
“I don’t think anything was as bad as 2017 in August, when I walked off [in Toronto],” Sabathia said. “I was basically ready to retire. I get frustrated because I can’t go out and perform. I still feel like I can pitch. I still feel like I can help this team.”
Sabathia said that he is open to a relief role during the postseason, something that he has done only once in his career -- in Game 5 of the 2011 American League Division Series against the Tigers when Sabathia came out of the bullpen for four outs in the Yanks’ season-ending loss.
“It doesn’t matter,” Sabathia said. “Whatever my role is in the postseason -- in the bullpen or starting or whatever -- I am good for it. My pregame [warmup routine] is pretty much like a reliever anyway.”
The Yankees reinstated right-hander Ben Heller from the 60-day injured list prior to Tuesday’s game, completing his comeback from Tommy John surgery.
Yankees manager Aaron Boone said that Wade’s versatility is intriguing, as the Yankees envision the 24-year-old as a super-sub who runs the bases well and can play multiple positions. The only positions that Wade has not played in a Major League game are catcher, first base and pitcher.
“I feel good about him wherever we put him, and that versatility is something that is going to be very important for us, not only moving forward, but for him in his career and his long-term future in this game,” Boone said. “His speed and defensive capabilities, especially in today's game where you have fewer bench players, it's something that's important.”
Boone said that he did not have any new information regarding Aaron Hicks (right flexor strain), who traveled to California for a second opinion from Dodgers team physician Dr. Neal ElAttrache. Hicks has been unable to resume throwing following his Aug. 3 injury.
Giancarlo Stanton (right PCL strain) continues to progress in his workouts at the Yankees’ complex in Tampa, Fla. Boone has said that the Yankees expect Stanton to rejoin the Major League roster during the homestand that begins on Sept. 17.
“I actually texted with him last night; he’s doing well,” Boone said. “He’s getting a lot of at-bats, running the bases, doing all his defensive work. So he’s definitely moving in the right direction, and in his mind, getting really close.”
This date in Yankees history
Sept. 10, 1950: Joe DiMaggio hit three home runs in an 8-1 victory over the Washington Senators at Griffith Stadium. It was the third and final time that DiMaggio hit three homers in a game, all of which came on the road.