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 on August 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 over three innings at Toronto 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 the veteran to only miss 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-ended arthroscopic surgery in the knee. He also spent time on the disabled list in 2015 with right knee inflammation and 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 disabled list.
Through 22 starts, Sabathia’s 3.32 ERA so far 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 innings, his best strikeout-per-nine-innings-pitched 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 warmups and throws between innings take a toll on his right knee, his planting leg. 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