TAMPA, Fla. -- While the pseudo-Yankees and the quasi-Red Sox were battling it out before a noisy full house at The Boss on Wednesday afternoon, CC Sabathia was across the street at the minor league complex facing the newly renamed Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Rail Riders, the Yankees' Triple-A affiliate. This was in keeping with the team policy of having starting pitchers avoid facing AL East teams in spring training.
"I would much rather not have [the Red Sox] see my stuff right now if they didn't have to, so pitching in a minor league game was the best way for me to get to 90 pitches," Sabathia said. "That’s a long start for me, so I thought the best way to do that was in the minors."
For the record, Sabathia threw 92 pitches (65 strikes) over six innings, allowing eight hits, one earned run and a walk, and striking out six. He reported no problems with his pitching elbow, which underwent an arthroscopic cleanout in October. Sabathia will have one more start, probably against the Houston Astros on March 26, before opening the season against the real Red Sox on April 1 at Yankee Stadium.
"I'll probably take [the pitch count] down next time, and be ready for Opening Day," he said.
Sabathia said he had texted Derek Jeter on Tuesday night to wish him luck in his latest setback in attempting to come back from a broken ankle, but downplayed the importance of the Yankees' Captain and starting shortstop being on the field on Opening Day.
"He broke his ankle less than six months ago," Sabathia said. "Would you like to have him out there? Of course. But realistically, if he's not [ready] I think him being healthy in the long run is what we look for. Him being healthy for Game 1 of the playoffs or October is better than him being healthy for Opening Day."
Sabathia also shrugged off any suggestion that the procession of injuries that has hit the Yankees this spring and winter had dampened his optimism for the upcoming season, or that they put any more pressure on the Yankees' starting pitching staff.
"Injuries are a part of the game, you know, and guys are going to go down," he said. "We've got guys in here who can hopefully step up and try to fill the void until these guys come back. There's no more pressure on us than on [Joe] Girardi or anyone else here. We know we have to pitch well to win no matter what, who's healthy or not, so it's up to us to go out and do that."