NEW YORK -- When Carsten Sabathia walks to the mound for tonight's Game 4 of the American League Division Series, he will do so with the task of staving off elimination with the Yankees down 2-1 to the Red Sox. You don't pitch 18 seasons in the big leagues without
NEW YORK -- When Carsten Sabathia walks to the mound for tonight's Game 4 of the American League Division Series, he will do so with the task of staving off elimination with the Yankees down 2-1 to the Red Sox. You don't pitch 18 seasons in the big leagues without learning to handle that type of high-pressure assignment.
Sabathia, 38, has repeatedly said that he does not pay attention to his statistics or where he ranks on the all-time leaderboards, yet as he finishes the back nine of his career, the left-hander acknowledged that he is taking a more introspective view of his accomplishments.
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"Lately, I guess I have been just trying to figure out how long I want to play and all those types of things," Sabathia said. "I haven't really given it much, much thought, but the last couple months I've thought about the Hall of Fame or my career and things like that, as I get to the end. So I don't really have a statement about it, I guess, but I have thought about it."
Earlier this season, Sabathia hinted that he might retire if the Yankees win the World Series, saying that it would be difficult to find the motivation for offseason workouts. He has backed away from that stance, and now says that he plans to pitch in 2019, no matter what.
"I definitely want to play next year," Sabathia said. "I'll play anywhere. I still want to play. I still want to pitch. I definitely can help and still get guys out. So whoever needs me."
Though J.A. Happ threw only 44 pitches in Game 1, Yankees manager Aaron Boone said that he was "pretty locked in" to hand Sabathia the ball for Game 4. It will be a must-win game after New York's 16-1 defeat to Boston in Game 3 on Monday night.
"We feel like CC physically is in a good place right now, coming off a really good start at the end of the year," Boone said. "I feel like his knee is in a good place and feel like he's been pretty good when we've been able to give him that rest. So we feel like he's kind of lined up and ready to go for tomorrow. We'll feel good about giving him the ball."
Sabathia has made 23 postseason appearances (22 starts), faring 10-6 with a 4.20 ERA. He was 1-1 with a 2.37 ERA in four starts last year against the Indians and Astros, and he said that experience should help him slow the game down against what he called a tough and patient Red Sox lineup.
"In my mind, when I start the game, I start the game to finish the game," Sabathia said. "That's just how I am. Obviously, that doesn't happen a lot for me anymore, but I want to pitch as long as I can and as deep as I can into the game. My mindset hasn't changed for me at all from me being younger. I just try to go out and pitch as long as I can."
Giancarlo Stanton started his postseason career with a towering home run off the Athletics' Blake Treinen in the AL Wild Card Game, then managed two hits in 10 at-bats during the Fenway Park portion of the ALDS, with five strikeouts. Boone isn't concerned about the slugger.
"It's kind of the nature sometimes of G," Boone said. "Sometimes his outs can sometimes be a little unpretty. You've got to live with it a little bit. The one thing I know about him is his process, and the way he prepares and stuff. Just when you think he doesn't look right or whatever, he'll catch a good one.
"Even where he's been a little bit down of late, he's still getting some hits. He's still getting on base a little bit. I don't feel like he's in a bad, bad place. I feel like when he gets himself into a good position, he's deadly. That's what we've got to work on."
Didi Gregorius said on Sunday that he has been continuing to receive treatment on his right wrist, which he injured on Sept. 22, but Boone said that he does not believe it has affected his shortstop at the plate.
Including two regular-season games, Gregorius has gone 4-for-19 (.211) with three runs scored and two RBIs since the injury, which required a cortisone injection.
"It seems like it's been getting better," Boone said. "Even the first day he [played], I feel like the way he swung the bat and the way the ball was coming off the bat was strong, and he's talked about it getting better each day. Didi's tough. Didi can play through things. I'm sure on some level it affects him a little bit, but nothing like he's not the impactful Didi we're used to seeing."
Boone has substituted Adeiny Hechavarria in place of Miguel Andujar at third base late in the sixth inning of the Yankees' postseason victories, and the manager said that will likely continue through the remainder of the postseason.
"I think with our team now, having Hechavarria there, he fills that role," Boone said. "The way our roster is set up right now, to be able to throw a premium defender on the field with [Neil Walker] behind him if we had a situation where we needed to hit or something, I feel like it's more how we're set up now. He gives us that flexibility to be a little more aggressive with that."
This date in Yankees history
Oct. 8, 1956: Don Larsen throws the only perfect game in postseason history, giving the Yankees a 3-2 series lead with a 2-0 victory over the Brooklyn Dodgers in Game 5 of the World Series. Larsen strikes out seven, including a called third strike that zips past pinch-hitter Dale Mitchell and sends catcher Yogi Berra leaping into the righty's arms.
Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and on Facebook.