TAMPA, Fla. -- The numbers may say otherwise, but it has been scientifically proven that CC Sabathia is the same pitcher he was as a 22-year-old Cleveland Indian.
Well, his arm angle is, anyway.
Sabathia, who came to camp 40 pounds lighter after a new offseason conditioning program, also spent some time at the Alabama sports medicine institute of Dr. James Andrews, the famed orthopedic surgeon to whom a visit usually means disaster for a pitcher. But this time, Sabathia said he went to have his delivery monitored by a sophisticated series of sensors that measures arm action.
And according to Sabathia, his arm angle and delivery checked out to be exactly the same as it was when he was first measured by Andrews back in 2003. This is especially good news because Sabathia had altered his motion slightly in 2012 to compensate for an elbow injury that required offseason surgery, and says the elbow had not fully recovered last season, when he went 14-13 with a career-high ERA (4.78) and a career-low velocity (91 mph).
"I threw all offseason, so I’m ahead of where I was last spring, maybe even the spring before, just from all the work I’ve been doing," Sabathia said. "I’m encouraged by the way I feel. My arm angle seems to be good, getting the ball out, my arm just needs to catch up with the rest of my body."
Sabathia threw 25 pitches of live batting practice Friday. And although he called it "not pretty" -- he had trouble throwing strikes -- he said he felt strong from dropping the weight and having a full year to recover from the surgery.
Still, he could not guarantee that his velocity would ever return to where it was in his first three seasons with the Yankees, when his fastball averaged 94.7 mph.
"As long as I don't feel anything and as long as I'm healthy, there’s nothing I can really do about it," Sabathia said. "I’ll stay within myself and not try to overthrow. At times last year, I got caught up in that and wanted to overthrow. That’s when things started changing; arm angle and different things like that. If I’m healthy I’ll just stay within myself and use what I have."
The Captain's last journey, Day 2: Derek Jeter came through another day of spring training without a hitch, although he did give a couple of beat writers an anxious moment or two when he shouted "Ouch!" after a couple of batting practice swings. It turned out he was just reacting to the sting in his hands from being jammed, but still, it's a disconcerting habit for a 39-year-old with a recent history of injuries.
But aside from that, Jeter seemed to have another good day, looking smooth in double-play drills and lining a couple of batting practice tosses off the left-field fence.
Sori still out: Alfonso Soriano missed his second straight workout with what Girardi called the flu, but was at the complex briefly for a gym workout. "He's a little better today than he was yesterday," Girardi said. "We hope to have him out there tomorrow."
Cervy in the lead? Girardi said Francisco Cervelli, Austin Romine and John Ryan (Don't call him J.R.) Murphy will compete for the backup catcher's job behind Brian McCann, but conceded that Cervelli -- who won the starting job last spring but wound up missing all but 17 games due to injuries and a 50-game Biogenesis suspension -- might have an edge.
"You’ve got three guys vying for that spot that played for us last year, so obviously there’s some competition there," Girardi said. "You’re looking for the best player, but [Cervelli] has got more experience than all of them and he played very well in the short time that we had him last year."
Coming soon: The Yankees play their first game of the spring, against Florida State, on Tuesday and then travel to Bradenton for their first game against a big-league club, the Pittsburgh Pirates, the following day. Girardi said he would announce who will pitch those games on Sunday. The guess here is Vidal Nuno and David Phelps, although not necessarily in that order.