MINNEAPOLIS - After CC Sabathia's second straight strong start on July 19 against Seattle, Alex Rodriguez said "stuff-wise it's the best we've seen all year," mentioning the lefthander's recently refined cutter in particular. "I think that cutter is going to be extremely important, especially against righties," A-Rod said.
Sabathia, who will start here Saturday night, agreed. "Just trying to work that side of the plate, the inside part to righties," he said Friday. "And it's opened it up for my sinker."
Joe Girardi said Sabathia -- 4-8 with a 5.25 ERA but coming off two starts in which he allowed three runs in 111/3 innings -- spent extensive time on the pitch last month. "It's something that he and [pitching coach Larry Rothschild] took time to work on pretty heavily," Girardi said. "I think it's important for him."
Being DH has helped
When did Girardi decide Rodriguez was best suited as an everyday DH and no longer was an option in the field?
"Probably after about the first month, I just came to the realization that you could play him, I felt, more often if you just DH'd him," said Girardi, who started him twice at third and once at first.
A-Rod, who will turn 40 on Monday, was successful from the start. "I think he bought into the idea pretty quickly and the results were there," Girardi said. "When there's results, I think it's always easier to buy into an idea."
Sabathia hopes to watch at least some of the Hall of Fame ceremonies this weekend as Randy Johnson, John Smoltz, Pedro Martinez and Craig Biggio are inducted. "It's guys that I got a chance to play against, grew up watching,'' he said. "It's pretty cool to see Randy Johnson going in. Definitely one of my idols as a pitcher."
Sabathia, who was in Class A at the time, recalled the 1999 All-Star Game at Fenway Park and his "whole team" watching Martinez strike out five of the six batters he faced, including the first four. "Him coming out dominating those first couple innings," Sabathia said, "was pretty sick."