That CC Sabathia keeps in touch with Ryan Braun, despite being his teammate for only three-plus months during the 2008 season, speaks to the quality of bonds Sabathia established during his brief stint with the Milwaukee Brewers.
But Sabathia hasn't communicated with Braun the last few days, and his reaction to the big news -- that Braun failed a test for illegal performance-enhancing drugs and is appealing the ruling -- echoed that of most everyone else.
"I was shocked," Sabathia said Monday at a holiday party at Major League Baseball's Fan Cave in Manhattan. "Especially from playing with him."
Sabathia added: "It's tough. [Braun] is a great player and one of my good friends, so I hope it comes out in a positive way for him."
Unless Braun can successfully appeal the test result, something no player has done in MLB's eight years of drug-testing, the reigning National League Most Valuable Player will begin the 2012 season by serving a 50-game suspension.
At a party for the Madison Boys & Girls Club hosted by Sabathia's PitCCh In Foundation, Sabathia looked noticeably slimmer than he did toward the end of the 2011 season. He has admitted that, after reporting to spring training in excellent condition, he allowed his weight to balloon back up to levels of concern.
"It's going on the right track," he said. "I'm just working every day . . . I look forward to continuing to do that."
Of course, as Sabathia acknowledged, he put in the work last winter, too. His shape became a concern mostly after the All-Star break. "Just maintain it during the season," he said.
While saluting the Angels for adding free agents Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson, Sabathia expressed confidence in the Yankees, even though their biggest move of the offseason has been retaining Sabathia himself.
"Everybody talked about our rotation coming into last year. Everyone stepped up and had great years," said Sabathia, who declined to opt out of his contract in return for a $25-million salary for 2016 and a $25-million vesting option (against a $5-million buyout) for 2017. "[Ivan] Nova pitched great, Freddy [Garcia] pitched great.
"We've pretty much got the same guys back. You could always make your rotation better. The Angels added C.J. Wilson to an already good rotation. You can always make your team better, but I feel good about the guys we have."