CC Sabathia admitted to reporters today that he left spring training last year with doubts about him having a good season. As it would turn out, Sabathia endured the worst season of his career, finishing with an ERA over 5.00.
I would bet that he'll be heading into this year's campaign with a totally different attitude.
Sabathia made his final start of the spring today in Bradenton, tossing four scoreless innings to round out his spring, ending on a high note in the Yankees' 4-2 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates Thursday afternoon at McKechnie Field.
Sabathia came into the game having thrown seven shutout innings in his last start -- also against the Pirates -- and five no-hit, shutout innings against the Miami Marlins in Panama on March 16. Throw in today's scoreless innings and you have Sabathia heading into his Opening Day start against the Houston Astros on a 16 innings scoreless streak.
The velocity didn't magically come back today, and I guess it might be time to settle on the fact that if won't get any higher than 90-92 anymore, but it hasn't been much of a problem for Sabathia lately because he is pitching more efficiently, throwing strikes, working the zone, and throwing his slider and changeup very well.
I know that Sabathia will certainly feel good heading into Tuesday, and I can say that I have far less doubts about Sabathia right now than I did four five weeks ago when the spring began.
Sabathia didn't have any strikeouts, but he was able to work around just three hits over the four scoreless innings, and he also didn't walk anybody.
The Yankees' offense was doing work behind Sabathia, getting on the board with a pair of runs in the 1st inning.
Ichiro and Eduardo Nunez both singled back-to-back to open the game, then Mark Teixeira grounded out to score Ichiro from third base, who got there on the Nunez single. After Brian McCann flew out for the second out of the inning, Zoilo Almonte, who was sent to minor league camp this morning, singled to drive home Nunez, giving the Yankees a 2-0 lead.
The Yankees doubled their lead in the 4th inning with two more runs, both coming on RBI singles from Ichiro and Nunez.
Nunez was competing with Dean Anna and Yangervis Solarte for the two remaining infield bench spot, and Nunez really helped himself today by picking up three hits in four at-bats today, while also driving in a run. He might not have bad the best spring, but he had a good game when he needed one. Anna also had a few nice plays in the field today, helping his cause.
The Pirates cut the Yankees' lead in half by scoring two runs in the 8th inning off of David Phelps, who has already locked in his spot in the bullpen. Phelps gave up a single and a double to open the inning, then walked Travis Snyder to load the bases. Phelps was able to get Drew Maggi to ground into a double play, scoring a run; then Gift Ngoepe tripled to right field to plate the second run.
The Yankees got big days at the plate from Nunez, Ichiro (3-for-4 with and RBI and two runs), Almonte (3-for-3 with an RBI) and Adonis Garcia (2-for-3 with a run).
The Yankees only have two Grapefruit League games left before packing up to break camp. Both of the remaining games are against the Marlins, with the first coming tomorrow night in Tampa. Hiroki Kuroda will throw the first pitch around 7:05 pm ET.