As CC Sabathia spent the past few weeks on the disabled list, the Yankees widened their lead in the AL East and emerged with baseball's best record. The team ace wants to keep it going when he returns Tuesday.
"Hopefully I just don't come back and mess it up tomorrow," Sabathia said Monday night.
The southpaw will make his first start since June 24 when the Yankees activate him off the disabled list to face Toronto. Sabathia has been sidelined with a left groin strain.
New York Yankees
"I feel good and my arm feels good," Sabathia said. "Haven't felt (pain in) my legs since the first week on the injury. Good to go tomorrow."
Sabathia, who is 9-3 with a 3.45 ERA, has been itching to get back; this marked the first time in his Yankees career that he spent time on the disabled list.
"It sucks," Sabathia said of being on the DL. "You feel like you're not contributing to the team. For me, it feels a little embarrassing, but it's part of the game and I'm healthy now and ready to go out tomorrow."
Lucky for him and the Yankees, the timing of his injury allowed him to only miss two starts as the All-Star break gave him additional time to rest.
As he prepares to make his return, Sabathia said he plans to go at it "100 percent" and will throw until the team tells him to stop. He has thrown a few bullpens recently, including a session Sunday, and said his arm feels fresh. He threw a 30-pitch simulated outing Friday and has been able to adhere to his normal routine while prepping to make a start.
"I've thrown a lot in between," Sabathia said. "I threw a day ago. I feel like I've got enough work off the mound, played enough catch that I should be able to go out and be able to throw strikes."
Manager Joe Girardi said he's going to be keeping an eye on Sabathia's command Tuesday night, and the Yankees will be monitoring Sabathia's pitch count.
"(The command is) my biggest concern when you haven't pitched in over 15 days," Girardi said. "That's somewhat my biggest concern. We'll have to see how he does. And the other thing, just stay healthy, please. Just stay healthy and we'll get through the rest."
Since Sabathia last pitched, the Yankees are 12-6 and boosted their division lead from 2½ games to nine games. He wasn't surprised the team played so well in his absence.
"Great team," Sabathia said. "When (Mariano Rivera) went down, (Rafael Soriano) stepped in and did a great job. I think this team is built for things like that to happen. These guys have stepped up."