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CC Sabathia knows ignoring knee pain can make it worse

Yankees pitcher remembers past seasons when he pushed himself and vows to be smarter about his balky right knee.

Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia looks on from the

Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia looks on from the dugout against the Mets at Yankee Stadium on Monday. Photo Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

CC Sabathia is learning from his mistakes.

The 38-year-old lefthander was placed on the 10-day disabled list with right knee inflammation Monday evening. After Sabathia tossed six scoreless innings Aug. 12 against Texas, allowing one hit with three walks and seven strikeouts on 97 pitches, he alerted trainer Steve Donohue that his knee “bothered” him.

“I told [manager Aaron Boone] I probably could have made my next start, push through, but the next one probably would have been bad,” Sabathia said before Tuesday’s home matchup against the Rays. “So I’m just trying to listen to my body and not try to push it.”

Which is something the 18-year veteran didn’t take under advisement last season, when he tried to pitch through problems with the same knee. Sabathia went to the disabled list after allowing four runs in three innings at Toronto on Aug. 8, 2017.

“I just wanted to be smart about it,” Sabathia said. “Like I said, last year at this point, I tried to push through and I got to where I was at in Toronto, so I didn’t want to make that same mistake.”

Both Boone and Sabathia expect him to miss only one turn around the rotation.

Sabathia, who began feeling discomfort in his knee in his Aug. 7 start at Chicago, said he had his knee drained Monday, which helped the swelling decrease and range of motion increase. Sabathia believes he’ll be able to play catch Wednesday.

Right knee injuries are nothing new for Sabathia, who had his 2014 campaign ended after eight starts, concluding with season-ending arthroscopic surgery in the knee. He also spent time on the DL in 2015 with right knee inflammation and he receives periodic lubrication injections, his most recent coming Monday.

Boone and Cashman both said Monday that Sabathia’s knee is always a concern and that a program was enacted to help keep the lefthander healthy with extended periods of rest and even trips to the DL.

Through 22 starts, Sabathia’s 3.32 ERA this season is his lowest since 2011 — his third season with the team. He has a 7-4 record with 106 strikeouts in 119 1/3 innings, his best strikeout-per-nine-innings ratio (7.99) since 2012 (8.87).

“It’s frustrating, because when I’m out there and my knee’s hurting, I’m not even thinking about making a pitch,” Sabathia said. “I’m just trying to not have it hurt. I’m doing whatever I can to not have it hurt. So yeah, to go out there and still be pitching well and not really locked into the game is encouraging, I guess.”

Sabathia said if he could go straight from the clubhouse to the mound, he could likely continue pitching, but the warm-ups and throws between innings take a toll on his right knee. But once he’s back from the disabled list, Sabathia thinks he’ll be ready and healthy to finish the season, again, reiterating the message of his long-term availability as the Yankees look to make a postseason run.

“I just wanted to try to make sure I can get some rest,” he said, “and not try to push myself.”

With Erik Boland

New York Sports