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CC Sabathia feels ‘fantastic’ after rehab, but he’ll always struggle

Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia talks to members of

Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia talks to members of the media during the 22nd annual Yankees Holiday Food Drive at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2015. Credit: Patrick E. McCarthy

Thanksgiving has come and gone. But CC Sabathia still is focused on the feelings associated with his favorite holiday – and not just because, as he joked at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday, “obviously because I can eat as much as I want.”

Sabathia, who checked himself into a 30-day rehab stint for alcoholism on the eve of the playoffs, is thankful for the support he has received from his friends, family and baseball family as he tries to deal with his problem and work his way back into the Yankees rotation for 2016.

“It’s always going to be a struggle with different things, but I feel fantastic,” a bearded Sabathia said before pitching in at the annual Yankees holiday food drive. “I think it’s just a weight coming off my shoulders. I feel good. I’m in a good mood, always. The Yankees have been fantastic, from [General manager Brian Cashman to the Steinbrenners to [manager] Joe [Girardi] to my teammates. Everybody’s been 100 percent behind me. That feels good to have.”

Sabathia shocked the baseball world by announcing that he was entering rehab on Oct. 5, the day before the Yankees lost the wild-card playoff game to the Astros. He emerged a month later and has made several public appearances, including one on Tuesday with his own charitable foundation.

Sabathia also is attempting to come back from a knee injury that has limited him over the last few seasons. But the Yankees have stressed since Sabathia revealed his alcoholism that they were far more concerned with helping him tackle that problem than with what it means to the club.

“He kind of got a weight off his shoulders,” said Girardi, who also helped out at the Stadium on Wednesday. “Number one, I think that’s important because I don’t think anyone wants to carry a weight around and if you’re hiding something, it’s very difficult to go through life. Hopefully, it allows him to be more effective.”

Said Sabathia: “It’s been a long year for me . . . I think that was the biggest thing is that it’s not a secret anymore. I’m able to get help with different people. I think if people see my personality change or things changing, then they’ll be able to help me.”

Sabathia said he has a sponsor but declined to reveal who that person is. He said he is looking forward to spring training and was able to keep his arm in shape somewhat while in rehab.

“I found a couple guys in rehab to throw the football with,” he said. “And then when I came out, I’ve been throwing. Workouts are much tougher, but it’s kind of what I need at this point in my career.”

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