Two of the marquee names in the New York Yankees pitching arsenal took very different steps toward getting ready for the 2013 season. CC Sabathia went in for a MRI after the season concluded and resulted in an appointment with Dr. James Andrews for arthroscopic surgery on his pitching elbow to remove a bone spur. Mariano Rivera spoke with Brian Cashman and instead of opening up contract negotiations was told he is now uncertain of his return.
Sabathia is believed to have plenty of recuperation time available before Spring Training begins and expects to be on the mound when the Yankees open their season. The Yankees perform physicals on their players after the season concludes to find out if there are issues to deal with or to set up training regimens. But, according to Yankees general manager Brian Cashman, Sabathia indicated that his elbow was bothering him and thoughts were that a bone spur was the issue. The bone spur may have been there since the 2008 season.
He hadn’t given us any complaints on the elbow, but we were going to have it checked either way. Then he revealed that it had been bothering him, so I knew surgery was a possibility.
When that was deemed to be the case, Dr. Andrews took care of it. The good news was that the renowned Tommy John surgeon did not see any issues with the ligament in the elbow which would have forced a lost season for Sabathia. Missing Sabathia for any given period of time is not something the Yankees want to deal with again—the big lefty had two stints on the disabled list this year.
Rivera’s return now in doubt
When Rivera went down on May 3 after rupturing his Achilles tendon during batting practice at Kauffman Stadium, he vowed to be back.
I am coming back. Put it down. Write it down in big letters. I’m not going down like this.
Despite that declaration, Rivera told Cashman that he is uncertain of whether he will return in 2013. “I talked to Mariano Tuesday night, and he is not sure what he’s interested in doing just yet,” Cashman said. “I think in Spring Training he was intending to retire at the end of the year, so I don’t think he knows what he wants to do just yet. Am I surprised by that? No.”
It is not surprising, but it may be revealing. If he is truly undecided about coming back because of the year he was able to spend with his family then it makes sense that he may not feel the drive any longer to return. But, Rivera worked extremely hard during the 2012 season to get back on the field—to the point that there were rumblings of his availability for the postseason. That of course didn’t happen.
The other way to look at this is simply as a contract ploy by Rivera who will be 43 when the 2013 season begins. He made $15 million this season (yes, he gets every penny) and the Yankees are unlikely to fork over that kind of money for the future Hall of Fame closer next season. Rivera knows this but at the same point probably feels as though he is still worth that salary. If Rivera decides he wants to return, it will be interesting to see where the negotiations start.
A good amount of it has to do with Rafael Soriano and whether he decides to opt-out of his contract. Rivera is very aware of that too. Should Soriano decide to leave then Rivera gains additional leverage in talks. So, in Rivera’s mind there is no need to rush. The Yankees probably feel the same way.