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Sabathia and Sanchez making progress for Yankees

By MARK DIDTLERMarch 2, 2019
FILE - In this Oct. 9, 2018, file photo, New York Yankees starting pitcher CC Sabathia steps back on the mound during the third inning of Game 4 of the baseball team's AL Division Series against the Boston Red Sox in New York. Sabathia and Gary Sanchez took big steps forward for the Yankees on Friday, March 1. Sabathia threw his first bullpen since having a heart procedure in December, and Sanchez played in his initial spring training game following a left shoulder injury. Sabathia, who plans to retire after the season, threw 16 pitches. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II, File)
FILE - In this Oct. 9, 2018, file photo, New York Yankees starting pitcher CC Sabathia steps back on the mound during the third inning of Game 4 of the baseball team's AL Division Series against the Boston Red Sox in New York. Sabathia and Gary Sanchez took big steps forward for the Yankees on Friday, March 1. Sabathia threw his first bullpen since having a heart procedure in December, and Sanchez played in his initial spring training game following a left shoulder injury. Sabathia, who plans to retire after the season, threw 16 pitches. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II, File)

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — CC Sabathia and Gary Sanchez took big steps forward for the New York Yankees on Friday.

Sabathia threw his first bullpen since having a heart procedure in December, and Sanchez played in his initial spring training game following a left shoulder injury.

Sabathia, who plans to retire after the season, threw 16 pitches.

The 38-year-old lefty had a stent inserted after a blockage was found in an artery from his heart. He has had chronic right knee problems that required several operations.

“Conditioning-wise, knee-wise, everything felt great,” Sabathia said. “It was exciting being able to get off the mound.”

Sanchez, coming back from surgery on Nov. 8, played four innings of defense and went 0 for 2 against the Baltimore Orioles.

“I knew it was something that was probably nagging him at different times (last year),” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “But I also felt like he was fine to impact the ball. I’m sure he grinded through some issues with it, though.”

The catcher struck out and had a potential two-run single taken away on a diving catch by center fielder Austin Hays.

“It felt normal,” Sanchez said through a translator. “Typical spring training. It was good to get into a game and get some at-bats. See the environment in a live game. Catching in a live game.”

Sanchez hit .186 with 18 homers and 53 RBIs in 89 games last year, making two trips to the disabled list because of a right groin strain.

Sabathia will work off a mound again Sunday and could throw batting practice in a week. He has a five-game suspension pending when the regular season begins for hitting Tampa Bay’s Jesus Sucre with a pitch in his final start last season.

Boone said it’s “a realistic expectation” that Sabathia will be ready to pitch in April.

“We haven’t really mapped out a timetable yet just because I haven’t thrown enough pitches off a mound,” Sabathia said. “I’m sure we’ll do that in the next couple days, but I’ve got plenty of time.”

“Plus, I’m suspended,” a smiling Sabathia added. “So, I get an extra week.”

The 2007 AL Cy Young Award winner with Cleveland, Sabathia is 246-153 with a 3.70 ERA and 2,986 strikeouts in 18 major league seasons. He was 9-7 with a 3.65 ERA in 29 starts last season. This will be his 11th year with the Yankees.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Yankees reliever Danny Farquhar will pitch in a game Saturday for the first time since collapsing in the Chicago White Sox dugout last April 20 because of a ruptured aneurysm and brain hemorrhage. ... A decision could come in the next week or so on whether OF Jacoby Ellsbury (plantar fasciitis) will report to camp. He is rehabbing in Arizona. ... SS Didi Gregorius (Tommy John surgery) could be cleared to take dry swings and hit off a tee in about 10 days.

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