On a scale of 1 to 10, the pain in CC Sabathia’s right knee has been running rather high for several seasons. Try an 8 on for size.
“And when it’s bad, it’s 10,” the 39-year-old potential Hall of Fame lefthander said before the Yankees’ split doubleheader against the Red Sox on Saturday at Yankee Stadium.
That’s a lot of pain to try to pitch through on a good day.
Sabathia has been on the disabled list or injured list in five of the last six seasons because of inflammation in the knee. It recently hit 10 again, and that’s why he had to take another timeout, his second this season. The Yankees put him on the 10-day IL last Sunday.
Sabathia, however, is confident that he can come back and finish off his 19th and final major-league season as an effective pitcher. His manager is, too.
“Very confident, as confident as we always are,” Aaron Boone said. “He manages this. We try and help him manage it as best we can. But he’s proven now for several years that he’s able to still be a very effective pitcher despite having a chronic knee issue.
“So hopefully he can get through this this time around again and be a real factor for us down the stretch. That’s our expectation. I’m confident that we’ll get there.”
There was a time when Sabathia had doubt about whether he could cope with this anymore.
“I just kind of deal with it when it comes,” he said. “It’s not really alarming at this point. It was two years ago, 2017. [That] August was the same thing. So I can get through it and figure it out.”
He recently received an injection of the lubricant Synvisc and an injection of platelet-rich plasma (PRP). So he’s thinking he won’t be able to return exactly when the 10 days are up.
“It might take a little longer this time, just because the PRP takes a little longer to be able to play catch,” he said. “But it shouldn’t be that much longer after that. So give it a couple more days. I’ll probably play catch some time this week. Normally, once I’m able to play catch, it doesn’t take me that long.”
The Yankees also put him on the IL for the knee on May 23 and activated him on June 2. This time his left shoulder had been acting up as well. So he underwent an MRI.
“It was just a little cranky,” Sabathia said. “We thought it was time, because I was down for the knee, to get tested on it. Everything is good.”
Sabathia hit two major milestones this season — 250 wins and 3,000 strikeouts. He’s one of only three lefties to reach 3K in Ks. He’s 5-6 with a 4.78 ERA, making 17 starts despite the knee issue.
“It’s something that we have to monitor,” Boone said. “We understand that he’s a warrior. He goes out there and pitches through stuff that a lot of guys wouldn’t be able to handle.”
The starters struggled heading toward the July 31 trade deadline, but general manager Brian Cashman couldn’t pull off a trade to import more help for the rotation or the bullpen. This basically is the staff going forward. Sabathia said he’s “good with that.”
“We had a bad week at the wrong time,” he said. “But I definitely think we have the guys to get it done. You get Dellin [Betances] and you get [Luis Severino] back, that’s like getting two moves at the trade deadline right there. I think people forget how good those two guys are just because we haven’t seen them this year.
“I don’t think there was anything to add on the offensive side. We’re there. So I think we’ve got the team that can win the division and ultimately a World Series.”