At the time, CC Sabathia couldn’t help but wonder, “What if?’’

He and the Milwaukee Brewers were so close to scripting a storybook ending to the 2008 season. And had it not been for Ben Sheets’ season-ending elbow injury and Yovani Gallardo being sidelined with a left knee injury, maybe Sabathia wouldn’t have had to pitch on three days’ rest four straight times in the playoffs, and the Brewers might not have lost to the Phillies in the NLDS.

“We had a good team and we were rolling, too,” said Sabathia, who will face his former club for the first time this afternoon at the Stadium in the series finale. “We just came up a little short on the pitching end.”

The competitor in him didn’t hesitate to sacrifice his arm during that playoff run — even though it resulted in a brief falling out between him and agent Greg Genske. “My agent was ,” he said. “ . . . We didn’t talk the last two weeks of the season. I just stopped wanting to hear it.”

But Sabathia, who was traded from Cleveland to Milwaukee on July 7, 2008, had no way of knowing that his brief stint with the Brewers would set him apart as one of the most dominating pitchers in the game. He went 11-2 with seven complete games, while posting a 1.65 ERA during his time with the Brewers, who made the playoffs for the first time since 1982.

Sabathia said there wasn’t much chance of him staying in Milwaukee. “I think it would have been tough to be able to keep the team together,” he said. “They’re in a tough situation now having to try and sign Prince .” 

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