Sabathia wraps up successful week for Yankees’ rotation

March 18, 2017
New York Yankees starting pitcher Michael Pineda throws against the Philadelphia Phillies in the fourth inning of a spring training baseball game, Wednesday, March 15, 2017, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — The New York Yankees would gladly take a week like this from their rotation during the regular season.

CC Sabathia started out with three hitless innings before Baltimore caught up with him in the fourth Saturday in the Orioles’ 5-4 victory.

A day earlier, Masahiro Tanaka pitched into the fifth on what turned into a combined no-hitter by the Yankees against Detroit. On Wednesday, Michael Pineda threw five perfect innings against the Phillies.

“I think it’s going to be pretty good,” Sabathia said of the rotation. “I think we’re going to surprise some people. Obviously, we’ve got the talent. It’s just us putting it together, staying healthy and going out and make a lot of starts.”

Sabathia was in control until Pedro Alvarez hit an RBI single and Chris Johnson connected for a two-run homer. The big lefty struck out five and walked one.

Last Sunday, Sabathia allowed six runs and six hits while getting just two outs against Atlanta.

“Health-wise, the way I’m feeling, the way the ball is coming out, the way I’m commanding the zone, it’s all been pretty good,” Sabathia said.

Sabathia had arthroscopic surgery on his right knee in October after going 9-12 with a 3.91 ERA over 30 starts in 2016.

“I thought his stuff was better today,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “I still don’t think it’s where it was at the end of the season. He’s coming off a knee surgery, and we knew that he might be a little bit behind, but he’s catching up.”

Tanaka has been stellar in his four starts, giving up three hits, walking two and striking out 19 over 13 1-3 scoreless innings.

“I feel like I’ve been pitching well this spring training,” Tanaka said through a translator. “On top of that the results have been there. So, that said, I think everything is going on the right track.”

Tanaka is 39-16 with a 3.12 ERA over 75 starts in three seasons with the Yankees, including 14-4 last season in 31 games. He was limited to 44 starts over his first two seasons due to injuries.

Pineda was an enigma last season, going 6-12 with a 4.82 ERA despite striking out 207 over 175 2-3 innings. Opponents hit major league-high .325 against him with two outs (minimum 162 innings).

“We really believe in Michael,” Girardi said. “This guy is really big for us, he really is.”

Luis Severino, the top contender to win one of the two open spots, allowed one run in three innings Tuesday against Tampa Bay.

Bryan Mitchell, the planned fifth starter last season before breaking a bone on his left foot in his final spring training game and then being limited to five late starts, held Toronto to one run over three innings Thursday.

“That’s the closest he’s been to last year that I’ve seen,” Girardi said. “We want to build on that.”

Adam Warren, Chad Green and Luis Cessa are among those also in the rotation competition.


Alex Rodriguez returned for his second stint this year as a Yankees guest spring training, and watched part of the game in a suite with singer-actress Jennifer Lopez.


Ernesto Frieri, signed to a minor league contract by the Yankees Thursday, struck out three and allowed a homer in the ninth.

“A dream that just came true,” Frieri said of playing for the Yankees. “I’m here to take advantage of the opportunity.”

The 31-year old took off last season to completely rework his delivery.

Frieri pitched for Colombia in the World Baseball Classic. He had 37 saves for the Los Angeles Angels in 2013.

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