Opening Day is so close you can just smell the green grass and dirty water hot dogs. As we round the home stretch before Yankees’ baseball, more and more questions are being answered. Unlike last year, most answers have been positive. Mark Teixeira and Derek Jeter are healthy and despite slow springs, we all are thankful to have them in the lineup. Michael Pineda has looked spectacular and fans are so excited to finally welcome him to the Yankees. The rotation’s shiny new toy, Masahiro Tanaka, has wowed a lot of people and even though he wasn’t as good as in his previous outing against the Twins, all of baseball is expecting big things from the rookie. Even when an injury to Jacoby Ellsbury popped up, the results were finally positive as Ellsbury is healing up and we can all breathe a sigh of relief. But the most pressing question of the entire off-season may have just been answered. That question being: “What is C.C. Sabathia going to do?”
Coming off of a great outing where he retired all but one batter faced against the Miami Marlins in Panama, Sabathia was just as good against the Pirates on Friday night. While Sabathia did not magically return to his days of being a high-90’s flame-thrower, he did however, dominate, something he never quite did in 2013. His fastball floated around the high- 80’s and topped out at 91 MPH. But Sabathia’s control was off the charts good and he seemed to regain mastery of his change-up after failing to use the pitch effectively one year ago. His curveball was sharp and he even broke out his new cutter that former teammate Andy Pettitte taught him. He struck out seven, allowing only four hits over seven scoreless innings of work.
In 2013, Sabathia put up the worst season of his career. In 32 starts he was 14-13 with a 4.78 ERA and he was never able to get it together. Sabathia slimmed down significantly in the off-season and the hope is that he can return to some semblance of his old self. Joe Girardi has already made it clear that C.C. will once again return as the Opening Day starter after not allowing a run in his last two appearances. Two starts ago, Sabathia struggled as he gave up three runs and promptly proclaimed “I sucked!” Many of us agreed, and Yankees fans were worried that the Sabathia of 2013 would make a comeback in 2014. But in his last two starts, the Yankees ace has risen to the occasion in an effort to silence critics and prove that he still has a lot left in the tank.
One year ago, every day of spring training brought worse and worse news and the season looked bleak… and it was. The Yankees came into spring ball with a new cast of characters and new list of uncertainties. This time around, every day has brought positive results and Yankees fans have had more and more to look forward to. The Yankees are closer and closer to the start of the season, and everyone and everything seems to running on all cylinders. If Sabathia can return to his top-of-the-rotation form, the Yankees could have a very special season on their hands.