NEW YORK -- CC Sabathia outwardly displayed no trepidation when he landed on the injured list once again, calmly discussing the familiar procedure to lubricate his right knee the way a motorist might talk about an oil change: Just necessary maintenance to keep things moving forward.
That pit stop complete, Sabathia is ready to continue his final big league season on Sunday, when he will take the ball for the series finale against the Red Sox. This marked Sabathia's fifth stint on the injured list for a right knee issue, with those assignments dating back to May 2014.
"I felt pretty good about it the whole time," Sabathia said. "When I got back, we went to do the drainage and get the [cortisone] shot and everything. It wasn't swollen, so we didn't have to do any drainage. I knew once I got the shot I'd feel good right away. I was able to play catch the next couple of days, so I felt pretty good."
Sabathia said that he believes he will be able to pick up where he left off, having gone 3-1 with a 3.48 ERA through his first eight starts, the most recent of which came on May 22 in Baltimore.
"I'll just be smart about it and not try to push when I don't really need to," Sabathia said. "That was what Baltimore was, obviously getting the shot and everything. I needed it. I could have pushed through it and made a few more starts, but I probably would have been where I was in August of '17, where I was ready to go home and quit."
The 38-year-old expects that he will need surgery to address the bone-on-bone arthritis that he has been pitching with for years.
"I think just knee replacement is probably what I am headed towards," Sabathia said. "Hopefully when I retire I'll lose a little bit of weight and I won't be pounding it as much. So maybe that will give me some relief, but if not, I will probably need knee replacement right away."
The Yankees have a target date for Didi Gregorius' return to the lineup. Manager Aaron Boone said on Saturday that the club could welcome the shortstop back as soon as Friday, when the Bombers open a three-game weekend series against the Indians in Cleveland.
"I do think there's a real chance on the road trip, maybe in Cleveland," Boone said. "He made a couple of good plays last night. He hit a ball hard. He's doing great. Now it's just continuing to get in that everyday mode again."
Boone said that Gregorius' timeline has not been affected significantly by a pair of rainouts at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Gregorius was scheduled to play nine innings at shortstop on Saturday, serve as the designated hitter on Sunday, then have an off-day on Monday ahead of a trip to Buffalo, N.Y.
The Yankees recently had one of their top scouts observing Dallas Keuchel's showcase workout in California, and the free-agent lefty is said to be in shape and close to where he was at the end of last season with the Astros.
Like reliever Craig Kimbrel, Keuchel's market is expected to heat up early on Monday morning, as the Draft compensation attached to their names will evaporate. Boone acknowledged that he has heard rumors of the Yankees' potential interest in Keuchel.
"Look, I know we're always having conversations about who's available, improving our club in different ways," Boone said. "Until we're down the road with anything like that, that's not really my area. I'm to some degree kept up to speed on these kind of things, but until it becomes a reality or something, I don't get that involved."
General manager Brian Cashman is in Tampa, Fla., where he plans to be in the team's war room for the Draft beginning on Monday.
Right-hander Jake Barrett was diagnosed with a right elbow flexor strain. Barrett was placed on the 10-day injured list Wednesday, retroactive to last Sunday.
This date in Yankees history
June 1, 1925: Lou Gehrig began his streak of 2,130 consecutive games played, pinch-hitting for "Pee Wee" Wanninger in a 5-3 loss to Washington at Yankee Stadium.