The big man on the mound who started his career in Cleveland and came to the bright lights in the bigger city so he could bring the Bronx home its 27th World Series victory will step down from the game to which he devoted his life.
Fans of the New York Yankees, baseball in general, or C.C. Sabathia himself, will still have time to see the powerful southpaw take the mound because he’s not hanging up the laces until the end of the upcoming season, ESPN reports.
“I just wanted to make this announcement that 2019 is my final season,” Sabathia said right at the top of a news conference. Sabathia is down in Florida for the very beginning of spring training, which is the preseason for Major League Baseball.
Before the entire squad shows up in March, pitchers and catchers report to camp in the middle of February so they can get a head start on limbering up their arms and working on their all-important repertoire with each other. Plus, a little Florida sun, or in the case of the west coast teams, dry desert heat, never hurts in the dead of winter.
Sabathia was known for his high heat that he could also back up with sharp breaking balls. A young kid with that kind of electrifying arsenal can keep most hitters off balance, even if he’s not that accurate. As his career developed, he had to adjust to his aging body and the young talent that was coming into the league and stepping up to the plate to face him. Because he always had the ability to throw good offspeed pitches, he worked hard to hone those skills and become a very crafty pitcher.
Aging pitchers in recent years who hung around the league well after their mileage should have expired include Jamie Moyer, Mike Mussina, Andy Pettitte, and Greg Maddox. For most of them, their fastballs dropped below 90 MPH. Today’s biggest stars throw heat that approaches 100 MPH. They learned the art of pitching and practiced enough to be able to execute well. They could hit certain spots, knew when to throw what pitch to which hitter in order to keep him off balance, and they could put a lot of movement and different speeds on their pitches.
Sabathia is facing reality though and is starting to look at life beyond the diamond. “Between his knees, you just [wonder] how much longer can this go,” Brian Cashman, the longtime Yankees general manager said. “Then he just follows it up with another he-finds-a-way type of year.” He added that he hopes Sabathia “finds a way this year.”
While the announcement at one of the first press events of the baseball season was an emotional one, the Yankees and Sabathia are getting right to business with the pitching staff. Sabathia joins a formidable lineup of hurlers who will look to keep some pressure off of the defense behind them and make sure that the offense won’t have to score runs like crazy in order to make up for sloppy pitching.
Another ace lefty who joins Sabathia on the pitching staff is newly acquired James Paxton, the 30-year-old star who came from the Seattle Mariners. He was spotted by some heads-up NJ Advance Media reporters throwing about 30 pitches in the bullpen for his first spring training throwing session. Japanese star Masahiro Tanaka was seen going through the same pitching exercise right next to Paxton.
On Friday, Luis Severino, the right-handed fireballer, made big news by signing a $40 million with the Yankees, according to NJ.com. The deal averts a potentially nasty standoff between the two parties, but now that the ink is dry on the contracts, Severino, a crucial piece of the Yankees bullpen, can get to work with the rest of the pitchers and catchers.