TAMPA, Fla. - CC Sabathia will be the last of the Yankees' expected rotation pitchers to appear in an exhibition game. And the lefthander, coming off right knee surgery that cost him most of last season, is fine with that.
"I just want to be healthy and to be out there [this season]," he said. "So we're kind of moving at this pace we set before spring training. One step at a time."
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Sabathia likely will throw a two-inning simulated game Wednesday or Thursday, perhaps lining him up to make his first Grapefruit League start the following Tuesday against the Blue Jays at Steinbrenner Field.
Michael Pineda, who had shoulder issues last year and also has been on a slower schedule, is slated to make his debut Monday afternoon at home against the Rays. Expected Opening Day starter Masahiro Tanaka, who was shut down last season because of a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament in his elbow, will start Thursday night against the Braves.
They are being handled with care because of their injury issues and Joe Girardi is happy to do it, especially given recent injuries to the Rangers' Yu Darvish and the Phillies' Cliff Lee.
"Really encouraged," Girardi said. "It seems like every day there's been a big injury. Those, obviously, are the things that you want to stay away from. But CC will do a simulated game his next outing, Tanaka's [starting] on Thursday. So it's good to see. They're where we want [them] to be at this time."
Sabathia, 34, said he's not sweating when his debut will be, nor is he concerned about being ready for the start of the season.
"I don't [have any doubts]," he said. "Just because I haven't had a setback and I've been feeling so good. I've been able to participate in every drill and haven't had where I've needed a day [off]. So I feel great about how we're going and the pace we're moving at."
Brendan Ryan said this "feels like Groundhog Spring," which is not a good thing. The backup shortstop, who missed most of last spring training with a pinched nerve in his neck, has been sidelined for nearly two weeks with a muscle issue in his back. Though he said he feels "better" and could be back on the field in a couple of days, Ryan didn't sound entirely sure that would be the case.
"I don't want it to get to the middle of March not having progressed," he said. "That's my nightmare."
Dellin Betances allowed a hit and struck out two in one inning in his first game. His fastball reached 97 mph . . . Adam Warren, in his second start, allowed a first-pitch homer to Nationals leadoff man Michael Taylor but otherwise was sharp in his three innings, allowing one run and four hits.