The 33-year-old reported to camp on Friday weighing in at 275 pounds, the lightest since his early days with the Cleveland Indians over a decade ago. Sabathia has always been known as one of the heavier pitchers in baseball, at one point weighing 315 pounds a few seasons ago. Still, it didn’t matter much since he was one of the top pitchers in the game.
But the pounds began to come off last year just as C.C. had the worst campaign of his 13-year career, going 14-13 with a 4.78 ERA. His fastball velocity dropped considerably, he allowed a career-high in home runs (28), and was a shell of his former ace-self that he had been from 2009-2012.
There were points in the season where Sabathia looked flushed, sick, and flat-out unhealthy, but he kept going out every fifth day in an effort to help the Yankees reach the postseason. It was obvious that the dramatic weight loss had done more harm than good, and C.C. admitted it when he spoke to the media for the first time this season.
“I think it was just losing that much weight and trying to play a professional sport,” Sabathia said. “I probably did it the wrong way going into a baseball season last year. I was joking in there with [trainer Stevie Donohue] that I felt like ‘The Biggest Loser’ last year.”
All joking aside, though, Sabathia made it clear that he wasn’t aimlessly shedding pounds for no reason.
“During the offseason, I decided to lose the weight to be around my family, be around my kids,” he said. “I had a cousin pass away that was pretty young from heart disease, so it was just really about that.”
And now since he slimmed down the offseason prior, Sabathia was able to spend this past winter focusing on baseball and truly getting in-shape. Losing weight is one thing, but being strong and healthy is another, and C.C. feels he is both as he comes into the spring with a chip on his shoulder.
“I always feel I have something to prove, but more so this year,” Sabathia said. “But I’m pretty confident in my ability, and know that I can do so. I’m coming in this year feeling good, and good to go.”
There’s no doubt that Sabathia is one of the keys to the Yankees’ success this season. Even if he can’t be the overpowering ace he once was, as long as he can rack up innings, locate his pitches well, and keep his ERA hovering around 4.00, he’ll be a huge asset to the rotation, even if he himself isn’t so huge anymore.