The New York Yankees won't have their highest-paid pitcher available until July at the soonest, the New York Post reported Monday. General manager Brian Cashman told them that left-hander CC Sabathia, who has a degenerative cartilage issue in his right knee, will need at least six more weeks to heal after receiving a stem cell injection Thursday.
And the Yankees, who also are missing right-hander Michael Pineda (shoulder) and Ivan Nova (Tommy John surgery) from their rotation, aren't about to add anyone on a mostly dead quiet trade market, Cashman added. Joel Sherman of the Post writes:
Sabathia was to stop using crutches Monday and begin therapy in a pool Tuesday, according to Cashman. The hope is to steadily build strength in the knee and then put Sabathia through an abridged spring training to get him back on the mound.
“Our dialogue with Andrews has been good and the small sample of stem cell procedures, the results are very successful,” Cashman said. “But he has to be pain free before strengthening, so there is a way to go. Because he is a starter it will take longer. I have no idea how long it will be and if it will be successful. We are hoping it is six weeks to a major league return.”
Oh, boy — "hoping." Sabathia, who most recently pitched May 10, has a 5.28 ERA in 46 innings. His strikeout-to-walk ratio (48-10) is good, but he also has allowed 10 home runs, and right-handed batters are hitting .321 with a .556 slugging percentage against him. How much his elevated stats are due to his knee and how much they're due to Sabathia continuing to adjust to life with a slower fastball, it's hard to say.
The good news for Sabathia is, the weight that he's lost the past two years has to hasten his return some. A 320-pound Sabathia trying to overcome a knee injury is a recipe for a longer recovery.
The Yankees, having compensated for holes on their roster and other under-performing players, own a 22-19 record in the AL East, good enough for a first-place tie with the Baltimore Orioles. But they won't be able to compensate forever if they keep losing players such as Sabathia. Even though his results have been down the past two seasons, they're counting on him for something. And they owe him at least $73 million over the next three seasons, more if his option vests for 2017.
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