NEW YORK — CC Sabathia’s career is over. , the Yankees announced they have replaced Sabathia on their roster Friday morning. By rule, he is ineligible to play in the World Series should the Yankees advance.
The Yankees announced Sabathia’s injury as a left shoulder subluxation, which is essentially a dislocated shoulder. He has dealt with a degenerative knee condition for years now, but his shoulder started to act up during the final week of the regular season, and it kept him off the ALDS roster.
Sabathia faced four batters and threw 20 pitches Thursday night. His final few fastballs dipped into the mid-80s, which is low velocity even at this point in his career. The trainer came out to see him, Sabathia threw a test pitch and tried to remain in the game, but ultimately had to exit with the injury.
“I’ve been feeling good the last week, 10 days, whatever,” Sabathia said with his left arm in a sling Friday. “Arm’s been feeling fresh, everything’s been feeling good. Just that last pitch to (Aledmys) Diaz when he popped up, I just felt when I released the ball, my shoulder kind of went with it.”
Following the Diaz pop-up Sabathia stayed in to throw three pitches to the next batter, George Springer, as well as a test pitch.
“Felt terrible,” he said with a laugh. “I was just hoping Springer swung early … When I was throwing those pitches to Springer, I couldn’t even look up to see where I was throwing the ball. Letting it go, whatever happened, happened.”
Sabathia said the full extent of the injury and the next course of action (surgery, etc.) is unknown, but he expects to go for tests “after we get back from Houston,” for Games 6 and 7. Needless to say, he’s confident the Yankees will win Game 5, and he is not upset his career ended with an injury. Quite the opposite, in fact.
“I told (my wife) Amber last night that this was kind of the best way for it to end for me,” he said. “Because the way I’ve been feeling — loving the bullpen and jogging out, feeling pretty good — I feel like about July of next year I would’ve been like, ‘I can pitch.’ The way I feel now I obviously can’t. It’s kind of fitting. I threw until I couldn’t anymore.”
Sabathia, 39, announced 2019 would be his final season back in spring training. He re-signed with New York over the winter to be the No. 5 starter and struggled with knee and home run problems, pitching to a 4.95 ERA in 107 1/3 innings. After missing the ALDS with the shoulder issue, Sabathia was on the ALCS roster as a reliever.
In parts of 19 big-league seasons Sabathia went 251-161 with a 3.74 ERA. He won the 2007 AL Cy Young award and was the ace of the 2009 World Series champion Yankees. Sabathia became the 17th pitcher — and only the third left-hander — with 3,000 career strikeouts earlier this season, and he’s long been regarded as a tremendous teammate.
“He leaves it all on the field,” Aaron Judge said following Game 4. “You can never say that man never gave his all. Every single time he went out there, you had to rip the ball, rip his jersey off to get him off that mound. You got everything out of that arm. Man, that’s a warrior right there.”
The Yankees added righty Ben Heller to their ALCS roster to replace Sabathia. He allowed one run and struck out nine in 7 1/3 innings as a September call-up this year after coming back from Tommy John surgery. Heller, along with several other Yankees, was at the team’s spring training complex staying ready in case he was needed the last few weeks.
The Astros hold a commanding 3-1 series lead in the ALCS. They’ll look to clinch a spot in the World Series against the Nationals in Game 5 at Yankee Stadium on Friday night. The Yankees will try to force a Game 6 in Houston on Saturday.