Sabathia makes first start for Yankees

March 6, 2009 9:51:57 PM PST
CC Sabathia is off to a steady start with the New York Yankees. The big lefty allowed an unearned run and two hits over two innings Friday night in his first outing for the Yankees, helping them to a 7-3 spring training victory over the Detroit Tigers.

Sabathia agreed to a $161 million, seven-year contract with New York in December after leaving Milwaukee as a free agent. He struck out two during a 26-pitch outing that included 20 strikes.

"It felt good to get out there competing," Sabathia said. "Just trying to make sure all my pitches were working decently. Just getting used to getting out on the mound."

Tigers designated hitter and former Yankees slugger Gary Sheffield thinks Sabathia will have no trouble adjusting to playing in New York.

"Like I told CC, I talked to him before he signed here, I told him, 'They're going to love you, man," Sheffield said. "Just pitch the way you always pitch. Make a bad pitch, give up a big inning, know that you're still CC and go back to the dugout. That's all you have to know. Try to focus on everything and carry a team, this ain't the team to carry. They've got a lot of superstars over there that know what they're doing. Just do your part and you'll be fine."

Sheffield went 0-for-1 and was hit by two pitches.

A.J. Burnett, who signed an $82.5 million, five-year deal with the Yankees during the offseason, will make his first spring training start Sunday against the Tigers.

"Part of me would like to get back there and catch them," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "I think it would be fun until, maybe, I had to block a couple in the dirt. I've been looking forward to this. Their bullpens are fun to watch and I wanted to see hitters against them. See how the hitters react."

Tigers starter Justin Verlander gave up four runs - three earned - and four hits in 2 1-3 innings. The right-hander struck out two and walked one during his third spring training start.

Detroit got encouraging news Friday about two pitchers coming back from injuries.

Reliever Joel Zumaya had his shoulder examined by Dr. James Andrews, and the results showed no problems. He had reported some discomfort recently in the shoulder.

Because of the tests, Zumaya won't throw for a couple of days.

Detroit manager Jim Leyland said the right-hander might pitch in a game very soon.

Tigers right-hander Jeremy Bonderman played catch for the second straight day. He went 3-4 with a 4.29 ERA last season, but was on the disabled list from June 7 through the rest of the season with a circulatory condition that resulted in numbness to his throwing hand.

"Tremendous," Leyland said about Bonderman. "We're still going to have setbacks. It doesn't make it that everything is going to be peachy from here on out. That's just the way it is. I think we're doing things the right way. Do I think both will be ready for opening day? I really don't know. This will not set back either one of them for opening day at this particular point."

Notes: Sheffield said he will keep playing as long as somebody wants him. "That's pretty much how I look at it," he said. "It depends on this year, how I feel." ... Yankees closer Mariano Rivera will carry the Panama flag before his homeland opens World Baseball Classic play Saturday against Puerto Rico in San Juan. ... Rivera, coming off right shoulder surgery, was fine one day after his bullpen session. ... Tigers C Gerald Laird (quadriceps) might play on Sunday.