CC Sabathia: 'Ready for next step'

TAMPA, Fla. -- There were no fielders. There were no umpires. And, most importantly to CC Sabathia, there were no problems.

Sabathia's first "live action" -- a 29-pitch simulated game on a back field at the Yankees' spring training complex -- since knee surgery was deemed a success by the pitcher and his manager. For the fragile Yankees starting rotation, this rates as good news.

"I'm ready for the next step," Sabathia said.

On the other hand, Chris Capuano, penciled in as the Yankees' fifth starter, will be not be taking many steps anytime soon. Capuano's strained right quad will likely sideline him for at least six weeks, forcing him to miss the first month of the season.

"It is going to be awhile," manager Joe Girardi said. "He is not going to do anything, at least for a couple of weeks. Nothing. The problem is we are so early in the process, you are almost going to have to start over."

Girardi called Thursday a "big day," because besides Sabathia's session, Masahiro Tanaka started against the Braves, his first of the spring.

Sabathia, meanwhile, is likely going to start in an exhibition game next week.

"That's up to them," Sabathia said. "We had a plan coming in. We are going to stick to it."

Sabathia, 34, feels he will have enough time to build up his pitching stamina so he is ready for the regular season. He said he doesn't really judge his control or anything else at this point, just how his body comes through each time on the mound.

"I'm not hurting," Sabathia said. "I feel good. That's the only way I'm judging myself."

Sabathia said that two years ago he was coming off having a bone spur removed from his elbow. Since that surgery, he has not been the same pitcher. He thinks he may need another knee procedure at the end of the season. He is hoping, though, to make it through 2015 without any setbacks.

"That's the plan," Sabathia said.

As for Girardi, he said he was "pleased" with the movement on Sabathia's fastball.