Yankees GM Brian Cashman says he doesn't know of any health problems with CC Sabathia but says Sabathia is sort of like Derek Jeter in that he will never use injuries as an excuse. Yankees manager Joe Girardi also says Sabathia has nothing physically wrong with him -- and Sabathia always steps up during interviews to put the emphasis on his performance, not his health.
After another disappointing showing and following a group session with reporters, I asked Sabathia whether he would ever admit to an injury as the reason for his poor performance.
"I'm healthy enough to go pitch," Sabathia said Friday night after his 6 2/3-inning, four-run outing in which he took the loss. "There is no excuse for the way I pitched today. So I go out and play. That is what I'm paid to do. I love to do. There is no excuse."
I followed up with Sabathia by pointing out that "I'm healthy enough to go pitch" leaves some wiggle room. Could Sabathia's elbow or his groin -- which caused his disabled list stints -- still be bothering him? Sabathia said no, he is fine. Earlier, with the group of reporters, he emphasized that his arm and body "feel good."
The results have been bad, and Sabathia put all the blame on his big shoulders. On Friday his velocity returned -- he hit 95 mph -- but his control deserted him in the fifth and he relinquished a lead for the fourth straight start. He has lost three straight decisions for the first time as a Yankee. Something is not right with Sabathia. He is not the dominant, No. 1 starter the Yankees need to lead them.
He is not missing enough bats. He struck out only three Rays among his 20 outs.
"I still believe in CC," Girardi said.
When asked why, the skipper pointed to an intangible.
"I know his heart," Girardi said.
After the loss, Sabathia just beat himself up, talking about how he is struggling and letting the team down. He knows he needs to be the ace.
"We keep talking about it," Sabathia said of how he needs to improve. "It is time for me to show it."
It was another night when it didn't happen. Another night the mystery of Sabathia's ineffectiveness remained.