NEW YORK -- CC Sabathia wants to leave it all out on the field in the last weeks of his storied career, and as he tipped his cap at the conclusion of what may have been his final Major League start, the veteran left-hander attempted to savor each step of
NEW YORK -- CC Sabathia wants to leave it all out on the field in the last weeks of his storied career, and as he tipped his cap at the conclusion of what may have been his final Major League start, the veteran left-hander attempted to savor each step of that walk across the infield grass.
With his playoff future uncertain, Sabathia handed the ball to manager Aaron Boone in the third inning of the Yankees’ 3-2 loss to the Angels, saying that he sensed the magnitude of the moment while approaching his applauding teammates.
“It was fun to be able to go out there, especially with a chance to be able to clinch,” Sabathia said. “All I was really thinking about was trying to make good pitches. When the team is in the position it’s in, it kind of takes the focus off you, so it was a lot of fun.”
A larger celebration would have to wait, but not before Sabathia enjoyed his moment. With his mother, Margie, and wife, Amber, wiping away tears in the field-level seats behind home plate, Sabathia yielded to right-hander Domingo German with the Yankees trailing by two runs.
Sabathia permitted two runs and five hits in a 62-pitch effort, walking two and striking out four -- all consecutively, beginning with the first out of the second inning. As he embraced Sabathia, Boone said that he told his former teammate: “Way to go, I love you.”
“There’s not much else to say,” Boone said. “To see him get the ovation he did, to get a big out there with the bases loaded, it was a big spot in the game. It was emotional walking out there.”
The second-longest-tenured Yankee behind outfielder Brett Gardner, Sabathia received an ovation that lasted more than a minute, another highlight in a season that has seen the lefty surpass both 3,000 strikeouts and 250 victories.
“I think it was emotional for everybody,” said Yankees reliever Adam Ottavino. “We hope he has a lot more pitching to do for us this year. He’s been such a great Yankee.”
Sabathia completed his Yankee Stadium career with a 66-38 record and a 3.67 ERA in 147 starts. He is the venue’s all-time leader in wins, losses, starts, strikeouts (860), innings (925 1/3) and complete games (seven).
As the Yankees gathered in front of their dugout, the first teammate to embrace Sabathia was right-hander Dellin Betances, who emerged wearing a walking boot to protect his partially torn left Achilles tendon.
“I got a little emotional,” Sabathia said. “That’s my little brother, so I’m going to miss being around him and Sevy [Luis Severino] and Monty [Jordan Montgomery] and these guys. That’s what I think I’ll miss more, the relationships that I had with these guys.
“The baseball side, I played for a long time. The body’s banged up, but it feels good to have these good teammates. I’ve had a lot of fun hanging out with my teammates these last 19 years and built relationships the last couple of years with these guys.”
Though Sabathia remains an active player, he is not a lock to appear on the Yankees’ roster for the American League Division Series.
He has expressed willingness to pitch in a relief role, something that he has done only once in his career to date -- in the deciding Game 4 of the 2012 AL Championship Series against the Tigers.
Boone has said that the Yankees could use Sabathia out of the bullpen before the end of the regular season to assist his acclimation to the role, and Sabathia said that he would prefer to log at least one relief outing before taking on that challenge in the playoffs.
“My arm feels good. The knee held up good today,” Sabathia said. “I’m ready to do whatever they ask.”
Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and Facebook.