Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Calling off the Cc Countdown?

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Calling off the Cc Countdown?

Article excerpt

TAMPA, Fla. - It amuses CC Sabathia to hear he's running out the clock on his career, just taking up roster-space and $25 million the Yankees are itching to spend elsewhere. Make no mistake - the Bombers love the big man, but everyone around the game assumes the countdown has begun.

This is news to Sabathia, who has no intention of retiring after 2017. His contract is expiring but says, "as long as I'm healthy" he'll be pitching next year, even if it's not for the Bombers.

"I realize this is a business, man, whatever happens happens," is what Sabathia was saying Wednesday morning. There's no defiance in his voice, no hint of a Take-That or I'll-Show-You vibe. The left- hander just disagrees with the unspoken belief that it'll soon be time to move on.

There are three reasons why.

His right knee: Sabathia says it couldn't be better. He's running on the treadmill, participating in pitchers' drills and working off the mound without pain. That's practically a miracle considering he has no cartilage left. Sabathia's joints are in bone-on-bone crisis, but are holding up.

His fastball: It's diminished but still highly effective now that it's been coupled with a cutter and change-up. Few pitchers have made the transition from pure power to finesse as seamlessly as Sabathia.

His lifestyle: Sabathia has battled alcoholism to a standoff, staying sober 24 hours at a time. He is rarely alone in spring training or on the road anymore - that's when he'd surrender to the urge to drink. Sabathia's was an inverted disease, since for many alcohol abuse starts with buddies in a bar and goes nuclear from there.

Today the veteran spends his free hours with family or friends, "just hanging out, watching sports or playing video games," he said.

One look at Sabathia suggests a life that's indeed cleaner and more honest than it was in 2015. Those were the dark days; he told the Yankees he couldn't pitch in the wild-card shootout against the Astros because booze had swallowed up his life.

Sabathia was sick of being drunk, sick of being hung over, sick of lying about the never-ending cycle. Instead of helping the Yankees get to the Division Series, he retreated to rehab. …

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