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Joe Girardi encouraged that CC Sabathia and rest of Yankees are healthy

New York Yankees' CC Sabathia throws in the

New York Yankees' CC Sabathia throws in the bullpen during spring training at George Steinbrenner Field in Tampa, Fla. on Feb. 21, 2015. Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.

TAMPA, Fla. - Given the laundry list of health questions that accompanied the Yankees into spring training, camp couldn't have gone much better.

"I think we feel pretty good where we are," Joe Girardi said.

The manager, whose team officially concludes spring training Saturday in Washington, quickly added a cautionary note.

"But there's been a lot of springs I've felt pretty good where we are and all of a sudden, bang, bang, bang, it happens," Girardi said of injuries. "I feel pretty good the way we're leaving right now today. But it's a different story in the season. It can happen quickly."

The Yankees (16-16) completed their Grapefruit League season Friday with an 8-2 loss to the Nationals at Steinbrenner Field, getting 5 1/3 OK innings from one of the biggest health questions, CC Sabathia.

The 34-year-old, who missed the majority of last season because of a degenerative cartilage condition in his right knee that required surgery, entered camp as a significant mystery and stayed healthy.

What the former ace did not show, however, is that he has adjusted to life without a mid-90s fastball, a transition that began two seasons ago without much success.

Sabathia, whose fastball sat at 89 to 91 mph but reached 93 three times, allowed three runs -- all in the first inning -- and five hits. He finished the Grapefruit League schedule with an 8.10 ERA but came away upbeat, as did Girardi.

"Just being able to throw [83] pitches pain-free is very encouraging, so I'm ready for the next one," said Sabathia, who will start the season's third game on Thursday against Toronto. "I just wanted to come out of it [camp] healthy and feeling good, and we got that accomplished."

Said Girardi: "I feel pretty good about him going into the season. The consistency will come. You'll see a different guy."

Because of concerns about his knee, Sabathia was brought along slowly. He pitched a total of 10 innings, less than rotation mates Masahiro Tanaka (142/3), Michael Pineda (19), Nathan Eovaldi (132/3) and Adam Warren (162/3).

Girardi said he is not concerned about the lesser workload. "Because he makes one more start in the season and he's where everybody else is," he said. "I don't really consider him that far behind."

Sabathia said he leaves Florida heartened by more than just his health.

"Just getting back on the mound and my mechanics being there," he said. "Talking to Larry [pitching coach Larry Rothschild], my two-seamer's a lot better, the cutter is there, and that usually takes a long time for me to get that. So I feel pretty good going into it."

One opposing team talent evaluator said Sabathia's control has been the biggest issue.

"His trademark command is still off, but I'm not seeing him favor the knee," the scout said. "This is a 'let's see what happens when it counts' situation. His velocity is fine. Just needs time for his command to come around."

The scout mentioned Sabathia's anger with himself after leaving a pitch out over the middle of the plate to end the fourth. He screamed an expletive as he walked off the field.

"He's missing his spots; the fact he's so [ticked] tells you he's fine [physically]," the scout said. "Just struggling to find it [command]."

Sabathia believes it will come, as will success for the rest of the club if the regulars can stay on the field, something that wasn't the case the previous two years.

"I think if we can stay healthy, I expect us to be at the top of the division," Sabathia said. "We definitely have the talent in here, it's just a matter of us staying out on the field. It's encouraging that everybody came out of spring training healthy. Hopefully, we can carry that into the season."

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