New York Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia, center, looks on from...

New York Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia, center, looks on from the dugout during a baseball game against the Houston Astros at Yankee Stadium on Monday, Aug. 24, 2015. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

When Joe Girardi asked and answered the feared question -- "Is it possible that [CC Sabathia] doesn't pitch the rest of the year? It's a possibility." -- a pregame news conference Monday quickly became something of a eulogy.

A day after Sabathia left in the third inning of his start against the Indians with pain in his surgically repaired right knee, the Yankees placed him on the 15-day disabled list. Girardi said there was no timetable for his return, and that he wouldn't travel with the team during its upcoming road trip.

"We'll rest it to see how it feels," Girardi said. "We'll get back and see where he's at.

"It really depends on how he responds to treatment. The MRI didn't really show any changes from before. But obviously he's pretty sore or he wouldn't have come out of the game."

The 35-year-old southpaw, once the modern-day example of a workhorse, has been at the mercy of his right knee for some time. Sabathia, who has a doctor's appointment Tuesday to get a second opinion on his knee, had surgery on it last season after eight starts.

"Last year, I was hurting pretty good," Sabathia said. "It's about the same as last year."

He also reportedly had procedures in 2006 and 2010. He had fluid drained from it before the All-Star break, and said he received a cortisone injection early last week.

Fourteen years averaging nearly 212 innings pitched has taken its toll.

"It's been maintenance all year long for us," Girardi said. "We knew that going in. We knew that it could rear its ugly head. There were times when he had some shots before and was able to pitch and it didn't seem to be an issue. But we knew it would take a lot to get him through the season."

Sabathia is 4-9 with a 5.27 ERA and 1.45 WHIP in 1381/3 innings this year.

"I didn't necessarily think that we'd get to 24 starts before we had to pull him out of a game," Girardi said. "I wasn't sure of that going into spring training. I felt like we were pretty lucky up until [Sunday]."

With Sabathia's return in doubt, Girardi raved about the southpaw's effort in 2015.

"I think he was extremely gutsy, what he tried to do every fifth to sixth day," he said. "He knew if he gave everything he had, there was a better chance that the knee would rear its ugly head . . . It was a balance for him that I think was difficult."

Added Sabathia: "That's kind of what happened. If I can't push myself to a certain level, I'm not helping anybody. I want to get to a level I'm comfortable to pitch at. Hopefully, that's some time this year."

Girardi said: "Other guys are going to have to step up . . . Hopefully, he heals quickly and we can get some more out of him."

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