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CC Sabathia upbeat about 2015 return

CC Sabathia delivers to the plate during the

CC Sabathia delivers to the plate during the top of the second inning of a game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Yankee Stadium on May 4, 2014. Photo Credit: James Escher

CC Sabathia's plans have changed since the Yankees' season ended.

Initially, Sabathia, who had season-ending knee surgery in July, said he would throw a bullpen session around Thanksgiving to see how everything felt. Now, the 6-7 lefthander said he won't need to do that.

Sabathia said Tuesday that he feels "pretty much 100 percent.'' He had a pair of stem-cell treatments on his right knee during the summer.

"I think it was just more me not knowing if I was going to feel good,'' Sabathia said after a signing event in Manhattan for his new children's book, "CC Claus: A Baseball Christmas Story.'' "Now that I know I feel pretty good, I don't think there's any reason for me to crank it up at that time.''

Sabathia, 34, said he will leave for spring training a bit earlier, in January, to test things out. He's at Yankee Stadium twice a week working out and playing catch regularly. He said he's in line to have a "normal offseason'' and expects to be in the rotation to start the season.

He comes off his two worst seasons -- 3-4 with a 5.28 ERA last year after going 14-13, 4.78 in 2013.

"Hopefully, I can just come in and be able to contribute,'' he said. "After the last two years really, last year not having anything, not being able to contribute at all, I'm just excited to be out and be in the rotation and be able to try to win some games.''

Sabathia, who made only eight starts last season, said he doesn't think the Yankees need to tweak the rotation. He said the team still pitched well even though four starters -- Masahiro Tanaka, Ivan Nova, Michael Pineda and himself -- were out for a large chunk of time.

Sabathia added he believes 200 innings and 32 starts are realistic for him. "My only goal is to stay healthy and to get back to that -- eating innings, start every fifth day,'' he said.

CC believes in A-Rod. Alex Rodriguez will return to the Yankees in spring training after a yearlong drug suspension, and some aren't sure if the 39-year-old will make much of an impact. Sabathia is not one of those people.

"I don't doubt that,'' Sabathia said. "He's a great player. He's had a year off, obviously. He's been working. Hopefully, he had some time to get healthy.''

Sabathia doesn't foresee any issues with the controversial A-Rod's return. He thinks "it'll be good.''

"Obviously, he's not going to be the A-Rod of winning MVPs,'' he said, "but he can come in and contribute.''

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