LOS ANGELES — CC Sabathia made sure he didn’t get cheated.
The 39-year-old lefthander, set to retire after this season, has always talked about how much he enjoys having a bat in his hands.
In his only at-bat Saturday — almost certainly his final at-bat in a game unless the Yankees reach the World Series --- Sabathia took a pair of good hacks against Dodgers righthander Tony Gonsolin.
Facing the rookie in the third inning, Sabathia swung hard and fouled away the first pitch he saw, a 93-mph fastball. He took the second pitch for a ball, then roped the next offering, another 93-mph fastball, straight at rightfielder Cody Bellinger.
“Felt good coming off the bat,” Sabathia said with a smile. “I didn’t know if I hit it hard enough, but it was fun. It was fun getting in the box.”
One of Sabathia’s three career homers came at Dodger Stadium.
As for his work on the mound, he was solid, much better than in his previous start against Cleveland last Sunday, when he allowed four runs in three innings in his return from the injured list. On Saturday, Sabathia, on a pitch count of 75 to 80, allowed two runs and five hits in four innings, striking out seven. The key hit was Justin Turner’s two-run homer in the third, which was the difference in the Yankees’ 2-1 loss.
Sabathia threw 78 pitches, 51 for strikes. “My pitches were working a little better, changeup was a little better,” he said. “Left the cutter right there for Turner and he hit the homer, but everything else felt pretty good.”
Encarnacion getting going
Edwin Encarnacion, who has totaled 30 homers this season between the Mariners and Yankees but has been out since Aug. 3 with a right wrist fracture, has started baseball activities at the minor league complex in Tampa.
“He took ground balls, played catch, threw today and did soft toss and tee work,” Aaron Boone said. “My understanding is all went really well.”
Boone did not offer a timetable but said: “I certainly expect him back and I feel like he’s hopefully not too far off.”
Boone spent part of his morning on the campus of USC, where he played three seasons before getting drafted by the Reds. At the invitation of coach Clay Helton, Boone spoke to the football team.
“Fight on, baby,” said Boone, using the name of the university’s fight song.
“Just the opportunity they have in front of them [this season], but the opportunity they have going to a great university,” he said. “Those of you that know me know how important that place is to me and how closely I follow them. To get an opportunity, Coach Helton inviting me over and getting to sit in a couple of meetings this morning was a lot of fun for me.”
The Yankees threw righthanded reliever Cory Gearrin right into the fire Saturday after claiming him off waivers from the Mariners on Friday, and he retired two of three Dodgers batters in the fifth inning before getting replaced by Chad Green. Jonathan Loaisiga was optioned to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to make room on the 25-man roster for Gearrin.