Sabathia relieved to be healthy as spring training opens

Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia throws the ball during

Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia throws the ball during spring training. (Feb. 12, 2013) (Credit: AP)

TAMPA, Fla. -- CC Sabathia conceded on Tuesday what he would not last season.

His left elbow hurt a lot more than he let on.

"I definitely feel the relief," said Sabathia, who underwent surgery Oct. 25 to have a bone spur removed from the elbow. "And just having a range of motion back and not having that ache at the end of my extension."

Sabathia went 15-6 with a 3.38 ERA last season but had an uneven second half, spending Aug. 9-23 on the DL with left elbow inflammation. Though the lefthander posted only two victories in his last seven regular-season starts, he rarely discussed the elbow, let alone said it bothered him.

But as pitchers and catchers reported, Sabathia, who will throw his first bullpen Thursday, said he can tell a difference in how the ball is coming out.

"Definitely after last year and going through what I went through pretty much the whole second half, playing catch so far it feels a lot better," said Sabathia, who reported at 290 pounds, 10 less than his weight at the end of last season.

Joe Girardi said he's optimistic about his 32-year-old ace.

"He wasn't 100 percent last year," Girardi said. "Anytime you need a surgery at the end of the season I think it's fair to say that you weren't 100 percent. I feel better we were able to address the problem and that he's coming into spring training healthy."

Grandy stays put in CF

Though there had been plenty of offseason speculation about flipping leftfielder Brett Gardner and centerfielder Curtis Granderson, Girardi said "there are no plans to do anything" with them. Among the concerns, he said, is "sometimes some people think a position change affects the bat. Do you want to do that? Do we think the focus of him playing in left field might take away from what he does offensively. Those are things you have to weigh."

Joe: Go to our doctors

While making no judgment on the travails of Francisco Cervelli and Alex Rodriguez, Girardi didn't sound thrilled the two players might have sought medical advice elsewhere. "I want our players to go to our people as much as they can," he said. "You know that's not always going to happen. The important thing is, if you seek outside opinions, they need to be wise opinions. And you probably need to discuss it with your club."

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