Sabathia submits silky smooth spring debut

March 1st, 2018

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- received one of the first calls that Aaron Boone made after being hired by the Yankees, with the rookie manager recognizing that his former teammate would be a valuable asset in his upcoming transition to the dugout from the broadcast booth.

"I wanted to come back here no matter what, but I was happy and excited that he got the job and he'll be our manager," Sabathia said. "I was happy for him. Right after that, I immediately signed back."

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With Boone watching from the first-base dugout, the 37-year-old sparkled in his first outing of his 20th Spring Training, striking out three in two scoreless innings of Thursday's 6-4 win over the Phillies. All three strikeouts came on sliders, including a beautiful second-inning offering that dotted the outside corner to freeze looking.

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"I felt like that was a good pitch," Sabathia said. "That's something that I try to do during the season, so I'm glad I was able to stick that pitch."

Boone played with Sabathia on the 2005-06 Indians and said that the veteran will be vital in establishing the "plan and vision" of this Yankees roster, both as a clubhouse leader and an on-field performer they will lean upon.

"I faced him and played with him back in the day, when he would embarrass you because of the overwhelming stuff," Boone said. "I remember the first time I faced him, when he got called up in 2001 in Cincinnati. He struck me out three times and I fell down in the batter's box swinging at the third pitch. The stuff was overwhelming.

"To see him evolve now into the pitcher that he is now, you always wonder once a guy doesn't have the same stuff that he has, can they make that transition? We saw CC, especially last year in a big way, be able to make that transition into this phase of his career and be really successful pitching in a different way. I think it's inspiring."

Sabathia chuckled when reminded about that July 13, 2001, showdown at Cincinnati's Cinergy Field. He didn't specifically recall that Boone fell down, but Sabathia said, "I remember pitching a good game there. I think I had 12 or 11 strikeouts." Indeed, Sabathia had 11 whiffs over 6 2/3 innings, a 5-1 Cleveland win.

Boone might not have made contact that day, but he is connecting now, Sabathia said.

"He's really good at communicating and getting along with people," Sabathia said. "So for me, I'm just excited for the people in the organization and the players around the clubhouse to know him how I know him. He's a great guy and he can offer a lot. I'm excited for him."

This left feels right

and both took fly balls in left field on Thursday morning at George M. Steinbrenner Field, while started in left field against the Phillies. Boone added to the list of names who could see time at the position this spring; Ellsbury hasn't played there since 2010 with the Red Sox.

"I'm fine with it. I said, 'Perfect,'" Ellsbury said. "I've played there before. I played there in the [2007] World Series. It's how I came up, playing everywhere. I made the second-to-last out of the World Series in left field. You've just got to be an athlete, go out there and catch the ball when the ball is in the air."

Injury report

(concussion) said that his condition continues to improve and he will be re-examined by a doctor on Sunday. Boone said that Frazier worked out on a treadmill and took swings in a batting cage on Thursday.

He said it: "Winning the World Series. Going out and playing well every night. Obviously, our first goal was to win a division; Boston did that last year. We don't want to try to play in that Wild Card Game. We want to get that home-field advantage. That's our first goal."

-- Sabathia, on the Yankees' vision for 2018

Up next: Aaron Judge is expected to be in the lineup playing right field as the Yankees host the Braves on Friday afternoon at 1:05 p.m. ET on MLB.TV. will make his first spring start, with drawing the start for Atlanta.