NEW YORK (AP)CC Sabathia could be on the New York Yankees’ roster for the AL Championship Series after missing the previous round with an achy left shoulder.
The left-handed Sabathia sat out New York’s three-game sweep of the Minnesota Twins in the AL Division Series, but manager Aaron Boone said the 39-year-old is feeling ”considerably better” after throwing a bullpen session Wednesday.
”Frankly, looked really good,” Boone said. ”I was really excited about how he looked.”
Outfielder Aaron Hicks has also recovered from a right elbow flexor strain and is an option for the roster, and relievers Aroldis Chapman and Zack Britton are fine after suffering minor injuries Monday night, Boone said. New York will open the ALCS on Saturday against either Houston or Tampa Bay, which are set to play a winner-take-all Game 5 on Thursday night.
Sabathia, a 19-year veteran who plans to retire after the postseason, spent the final week of the regular season preparing to pitch in relief for the AL East champions before his shoulder flared and kept him off the ALDS roster. Boone said Sabathia is an option for the ALCS, but the Yankees haven’t decided on their bullpen. If Sabathia is active, he’ll pitch in relief either as a lefty specialist or to face three or four hitters.
Sabathia was 5-8 with a 4.95 ERA in the regular season, notching his 3,000th career strikeout and 250th win. Boone wanted to gauge how Sabathia felt Thursday before making a decision.
”I think that’s the biggest thing: How is he going to be able to recover?” Boone said. ”Do we think he can pitch in a game and legitimately bounce back and be an option the next day if he were to face a hitter or something like that?”
Hicks joined the team at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday after working out at the club’s facility in Tampa, Florida, during the ALDS. New York hoped to watch him play simulated games in the Bronx, but rain forced players to stay inside. He faced live pitching in the cage and did other work.
Hicks told The Associated Press on Tuesday that he is healthy enough to play. Boone agrees, but the manager said there is ”trepidation” about activating him because he hasn’t appeared in a game since Aug. 3.
”Obviously hasn’t had the kind of reps or games that you’d like, but he has certainly put himself in a position to be considered,” Boone said.
Hicks batted .235 with 12 home runs and a .769 OPS in 59 games this season. Brett Gardner, his replacement in center field, clubbed 10 home runs in September and another during the ALDS.
Chapman had his pitching hand wrapped Monday after being hit by a bottle during New York’s celebration for eliminating Minnesota. Boone said the hand wasn’t a concern.
Britton jammed his right ankle covering first base, but Boone expects him to be a ”full go with no issues.” The left-hander got treatment Wednesday and is set to throw a bullpen Thursday.
Boone said he hasn’t set a rotation for the ALCS and hasn’t decided whether to carry 12 or 13 pitchers. That decision may depend on the opponent. New York used 12 pitchers during its five-game series against the Twins, with left-hander Tyler Lyons subbing into the spot vacated by Sabathia. Lyons pitched a perfect inning in Game 2.
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