CC Sabathia did not want to go. Not even when his battered body rebelled, not with the Yankees deep in a hole, the season nearly over.
He trudged back onto the mound in the eighth inning while in visible pain — though, if you know anything about the last few years, he was pretty much always in pain — and threw one last warm-up pitch.
Yankees trainer Steve Donohue shook his head and guided Sabathia off the mound, probably for the last time in the lefty’s 19-year career.
As the crowd chanted his name, Sabathia used his glove to cover his face and appeared to be crying. In the opposing dugout, Gerrit Cole applauded, as did George Springer, who was up at bat.
The surgically repaired knee had held up just long enough to let him finish his career on his terms, but in the end, his left shoulder betrayed him.
Aaron Boone said after the game that it didn’t look good and that the Yankees could make a roster move before Game 5 Friday night.
Aaron Judge said he didn’t know the severity of Sabathia’s injury, though it seems everyone realized what it could mean.
“You can never say that man didn’t] give his all,” Judge said. “You had to rip the jersey off to get him off that mound. He got everything out of that arm. That’s a warrior right there. That’s why he has so much respect around the game . . . That’s our leader. He left it all out there.”
And so Sabathia — who had battled multiple injuries, alcohol addiction, advancing age and lost velocity — fittingly ended his night and probably his career the same way he played it. He tried however he could to stay in the game. That’s what Gleyber Torres said.
“He felt sore, but he wanted to stay on the mound,” Torres said, recalling the meeting on the mound. “It’s so hard to see CC go like that.”
Sabathia’s legacy won’t be defined by Thursday. He faced four hitters, retiring two, and the last pitch he threw was a 92-mph cutter. Before that, he had compiled more than 3,000 career strikeouts, won a Cy Young Award and been on a World Series winner. He also was one of the faces of this franchise, and one of the last two holdovers from the 2009 championship team, along with Brett Gardner.
“That was tough,” Aaron Hicks said. “He’s a great person. A great player, obviously . . . To see a guy like that go out like that is not the way you want to see it. He means a lot to this team, a lot to this organization. For him to go out like that — it’s not something you want.”