CC Sabathia, Mariano Rivera get work in simulated games

Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia pitches in the bullpen

Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia pitches in the bullpen at practice during spring training at George Steinbrenner Field in Tampa, Florida. (Feb. 16, 2013) (Credit: Newsday/J. Conrad Williams, Jr.)

TAMPA, Fla. -- In terms of importance to the 2013 Yankees, the most significant pitches yesterday came on Field No. 2 here, several hours before a 1-0 split-squad loss to the Blue Jays at Steinbrenner Field.

That was where CC Sabathia and Mariano Rivera threw their first simulated games of the season.

Sabathia threw 46 pitches, including pitchouts, for two innings. Rivera threw 18 pitches in his one inning.

"No problems," Sabathia said. "Threw everything, so I'm excited."

And "antsy" to make his exhibition debut, he said.

"I'm definitely getting fired up to be able to pitch in a spring training game," Sabathia said. "I'm a long way to being ready to pitch the season. I feel good, arm's feeling good, arm slot's good."

But with Sabathia coming off surgery to remove a bone spur from his elbow, the Yankees are taking it slow with him. Joe Girardi said he likely will pitch simulated games until March 15, meaning he would enter the regular season having made three exhibition starts.

Andy Pettitte could be on a similar schedule, but Girardi said the number of starts against other teams in spring training isn't important.

"We don't want them to start too many games down here because then you're using innings that you'd use during the season," Girardi said. "You can control things a lot easier and they're still getting built up. The key is to get them built up. I'm not going to worry about whether Mo's going to have intensity come April 1 or if Andy's going to have intensity or CC. We have to get them built up."

Rivera, coming off ACL surgery on his right knee, said his plan still is to go through his usual spring training regimen -- eight innings. There is no rush, Rivera said, for that first appearance.

"We have another month to go, a long time," he said. "But we're feeling good. Getting stronger and stronger."

The 43-year-old closer's knee passed another test in the simulated game. He came off the mound to field several bunts, the first time he's done so in spring training.

"What do you guys think?" Rivera joked to reporters. "You guys were there. How was [I] fielding?"

Rivera said the knee gave him no trouble.

"That's what I wanted to do, field some bunts, field some balls between first and the mound," Rivera said. "It felt good. That's perfect. Now you have to do it in the real game."

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