PANAMA CITY - CC Sabathia fumed as he talked to the media after his previous start last Tuesday in Viera, Fla., against the Nationals.
"I [stunk] today," Sabathia said after allowing three runs and four hits in three innings. "I only threw a couple of good pitches out of .''
Sabathia cooled down somewhat in the days that followed and said he'll have pretty much put the start behind him when he takes the mound Sunday against the Marlins.
"I was annoyed at myself," Sabathia said before Saturday night's game. "I want to be able to throw strikes, pound the strike zone. I think I had two or three walks last game [it was two] and I was frustrated with that. But I have to realize it is still spring training, I am still working and trying to get ready for Opening Day, so I guess I shouldn't take myself that serious in spring training."
It is a start sure to be unlike any other he's made in his career, given the circumstances -- meaning the pomp and circumstance of the three-day tribute to Mariano Rivera -- surrounding it.
"It's still spring training," said Sabathia, who is working a cutter into his repertoire. "I'm still going out, working and see what happens. It's spring training, so you kind of deal with it . . . I'm going to go out there and pitch hard and continue to work on things."
Sabathia, a native of the Bay Area, has always talked about how much he enjoys pitching there, whether in Oakland or San Francisco. He knows how much pride Rivera has felt since the Yankees arrived in town Thursday night.
"I know he's excited, you can tell," Sabathia said. "He's been smiling ear to ear since we got off the plane. So for him to be able to bring us here, the events that he's put on, it's been awesome. I know he's really excited."
Sabathia, who has been learning some of the tricks of the cutter trade from Andy Pettitte, said he looks forward to discussing the pitch with Rivera, who threw a pretty decent one himself during his career.
"Oh, yeah, I'm going to talk to Mo at some point," Sabathia said with a laugh. "Probably not this trip, but when we get back up to New York, I'll talk to him about it and see his grip and everything."
Team personnel did several advance trips here, and, as of a couple of months ago, there was some concern about the condition of Rod Carew Stadium, particularly the field. But last month, the field was completely re-sodded, part of $500,000 worth of improvements to the facility.
"It's nice," Sabathia said of the mound. "The field is really nice. They did a good job with it."