While manager Joe Girardi remains cautiously optimistic about CC Sabathia returning to the Yankees' rotation this week, the pitcher Saturday insisted he would be starting next weekend in Cleveland.

"I'm pitching on Friday," Sabathia said after a pregame bullpen session. Reminded that Girardi had not yet committed to that date, the lefthander repeated, "I'm pitching on Friday."

Sabathia, who reluctantly was placed on the disabled list Aug. 9 with elbow inflammation, threw 23 pitches in the bullpen session and declared himself healed. He will throw 38 pitches in Tuesday's bullpen session and be reevaluated.

"It felt good to be able to go out and even just play catch the last couple days and feel really good, and be able to throw some pitches and not feel [anything] back there," Sabathia said, adding that he had been doing "a lot of stretching and a lot of treatment during the games and at home, so the range of motion has gotten better."

"I have to put his name in the lineup," Girardi, chuckling, said of Sabathia's guarantee after last night's game. "Our hope is that he can pitch Friday. But I want to give ourselves a little leeway if he feels that he needs an extra day. That's why I'm not being committal to it. I have to make sure that day he's ready."

Sabathia was put on the 15-day disabled list after a start against the Tigers in which he allowed three runs in 62/3 innings. He was pulled from that game after 94 pitches. It was his second DL stint this season, after having avoided it since 2006. He had been shut down from June 25-July 16 with a strained groin.

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The 32-year-old said he first felt stiffness in his elbow on Aug. 4, the morning after his three-hitter against the Mariners, but he initially fought the decision to go on the DL. After the fact, he became resolute about returning on Aug. 24.

"I pleaded my case to not go on the DL, but it seems like that was the best way to go," Sabathia said Saturday of the organization's decision. "Same thing with the groin. I probably wouldn't have said anything, but when I woke up that morning I couldn't move my arm or touch my shoulder."

Sabathia is 12-3 with a 3.56 ERA in 20 starts this season. The All-Star has won 17 or more games and pitched at least 230 innings each season since 2007. "Pending any setbacks, I should be good to go," Sabathia said. "I haven't had any of that the last couple days, so I should be good."