"I asked for it. It was open," Sabathia said. "I figured, might as well take it."
Jeter had used the locker since Yankee Stadium opened in 2009. There is an empty locker to the right, which Sabathia said he and Jeter shared use of for storage. Sabathia's lockers of years gone by are next door, with Dellin Betances and Michael Pineda now using those spaces.
"It could have been a bunch of guys, I guess it could have been whoever, but I was already right here and I kind of had shared this [adjacent] locker," Sabathia said. "Me and Dellin had gotten along being lockermates and I wanted to be next to Big Mike. We just moved everybody down."
Sabathia is more excited about his assignment for Thursday, which will mark his first time on a big league mound since last May. Sabathia said that it was strange to sit on the bench and watch nine innings during Monday's season opener, a 6-1 loss to the Blue Jays.
"It really does feel like it's been a long time since I've been around the team and watched a game, a full game." Sabathia said. "So it's been a lot of fun, and hopefully tomorrow we can get it going."
Sabathia had a rough spring, posting an 8.10 ERA over three Grapefruit League starts spanning 10 innings, but he made it clear those statistics hold little significance to him. He and the Yankees are encouraged by the relative health of his surgically repaired right knee, which limited Sabathia to eight starts last year.
"I know I didn't have the best results, but just getting back into game situations and getting used to be being back out on the mound, I think it felt pretty good," Sabathia said.
As he spoke, Sabathia sat at his new clubhouse home wearing a white 'RE2PECT' T-shirt, a leftover from last year's farewell campaign for Jeter. He said that there were no souvenirs of Jeter's 2014 season left in the locker when he unpacked his belongings.
"No, I wish," Sabathia said. "Nothing."
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.