CC: I was an achin' ace last year

TAMPA, Fla. -- Although he maintained he was healthy all last season -- despite having to go on the DL with elbow pain and being less than overpowering in the second half -- CC Sabathia admitted Tuesday that he was never 100 percent in 2012.

“Just getting extension on certain pitches, it restricted me a little bit," he said on the first day of pitchers and catchers at Yankees camp. "And obviously in between starts with the range of motion and in bullpens. Hopefully all that’s gone and I can go out and have a healthy year.”

Sabathia had offseason elbow cleanup surgery and said he already feels a difference.

“I definitely feel a relief, just having that range of motion back and not having that ache at the end of my extension," he said. "I felt that right away, so hopefully I can just continue to get better and continue to feel less. After last year, going through what I went through pretty much the whole second half, playing catch so far, it feels a lot better.”

Sabathia said he "didn't think" he would have any restrictions in camp this spring, although he has yet to throw a breaking ball or throw off a mound, which he said is his normal offseason habit anyway. He expects to throw a bullpen on Thursday which will be limited to fastballs and changeups.

What has also become his annual offseason habit, is coming to camp lighter -- Sabathia said he weighed 290, down from at least 300 at the end of last season.

"Any time you need surgery at the end of the year, I think it’s fair to say that you weren’t 100 percent," Joe Girardi said of his ace, who went 15-6 with a 3.38 ERA last season but got bombed for six runs in 3-2/3 innings in the last game of the season, Game 4 of the ALCS. "But I feel better that we were able to address the problem and he's coming into spring training healthy. He wasn’t overworked last year, so I feel better about it."