NEW YORK -- CC Sabathia says that he is always up to offer a recruiting pitch if it might point a free agent toward the Bronx, and that certainly holds true as Robinson Cano begins to explore the open market.
Sabathia said that he has already made overtures to Cano, summing up his message as "stay here." Like many, Sabathia believes that keeping Cano in pinstripes should be at the top of the club's priority list as it attacks the offseason.
"I think it's important," Sabathia said. "I've played with him for five years now, and I think he's the best second baseman in the game. Obviously he's one of my good friends. We'll have to wait and see what happens."
There seems to be a great amount of ground to cover between Cano and the Yankees. Cano reportedly requested a 10-year, $300 million deal from the club; the Yankees are unwilling to offer a deal of that length and are believed to be holding firm in the area of seven years and $161 million.
Sabathia sat with Cano at a charity event on Thursday, and said while he has delivered his message, he still expects Cano to take his time weighing the options.
"I've seen him a couple of times, but you don't want that to be the only thing you talk about with one of your friends," Sabathia said. "I'm just hoping that he can stay here and make the best decision for him and his family."
Sabathia was back in New York on Friday for the official rules party kicking off his CC Challenge, an adventurous scavenger hunt sending 30 teams through Central Park on Saturday to benefit his PitCCh In Foundation.
The event was Sabathia's idea, borrowing a theme from his favorite television show, "The Amazing Race." It had to be postponed last year due to Hurricane Sandy, with participants instead helping to deliver clothes, food, diapers and baby supplies to flooded areas of Hoboken, N.J.
"I think everybody this year is excited and anxious to get back in the park and run the race," Sabathia said.
Sabathia said that he will not be among those dashing around the park, but he should have no troubles completing drills when pitchers and catchers report in February. He said that he has been recovering well from the Grade 2 left hamstring strain that prematurely ended his season in late September.
"It feels good," Sabathia said. "I haven't had any problems or any setbacks. I've been working out 100 percent, doing all my lifting and everything. I've felt fine."
Coming off a season that he has called his most frustrating to date, finishing with a 14-13 record and 4.78 ERA in 32 starts, Sabathia said that he has been able to follow a more normal offseason routine so far.
He has been tossing a football three to four times each week, something he couldn't do last year, when his progress was hindered by late-October surgery to remove a bone spur from his pitching elbow. Sabathia believes the procedure had an effect on his disappointing campaign.
"I've been able to throw the whole winter," Sabathia said. "Last year, I had the surgery, so I wasn't able to throw. I lost a bunch of weight all at one time. This year, it's all about just getting stronger, building my strength back up and keeping my arm loose."
Sabathia said that he was "excited" by the Yankees' decision to retain pitching coach Larry Rothschild, a move that was announced earlier on Friday, and added that he is looking forward to making phone calls to possible future teammates as the club begins to reach out to players on the free-agent market.
"I'm down for recruiting. I want to win," Sabathia said. "It was hard to watch the Red Sox win the World Series this year. You want to be in that spot. Whatever you've got to do to get the guys to come play, that's what you've got to do."
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat.