NEW YORK -- The Yankees placed CC Sabathia on the 15-day disabled list with inflammation in his right knee before Monday's series-opening 1-0 win over the Astros, and because there is no definitive timetable for recovery, manager Joe Girardi said that it is possible that the left-hander's season could be over.
Sabathia was forced to exit in the third inning of Sunday's 4-3 loss to the Indians with pain in the surgically repaired knee, which has been described as "degenerative." The veteran had the knee drained twice this season, requiring a cortisone injection last week, and will see a specialist in New York on Tuesday.
"Is it possible that he doesn't pitch the rest of the year? It's a possibility," said Girardi, who noted that Sabathia will not travel with the club on their upcoming road trip to Atlanta and Boston.
The 35-year-old is 4-9 with a 5.27 ERA in 24 starts this year. A six-time All-Star and the 2007 American League Cy Young Award winner, Sabathia has a career record of 212-128 with a 3.70 ERA, but hasn't posted a winning record and an ERA under 4.00 in the same season since 2012 (15-6, 3.38 ERA).
Sabathia said that he had been throwing with more effort recently after holding back earlier in the season to protect the knee, which limited him to just eight starts last year and required a debridement procedure.
"If I can't push myself to a certain limit, then I'm not helping anybody," Sabathia said. "I'm not helping myself, not helping the organization, the team. I want to get to a level where I'm comfortable to pitch at -- sometime this year."
Sabathia said the soreness he feels now is similar to what he experienced last season. Girardi said that because the Yankees had to perform maintenance all season on Sabathia's knee, they understood there was a chance that he might not make it through the campaign uninterrupted.
"I felt like we were pretty lucky up until yesterday," Girardi said.
In a corresponding roster move, the Yankees announced that left-hander Chris Capuano again elected free agency, then agreed to a new Major League contract. Capuano, 36, had most recently been designated for assignment on Aug. 22 when the Yanks recalled right-hander Branden Pinder from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
Because of Sabathia's injury, the Yanks scrapped the idea of using a six-man rotation when right-hander Michael Pineda returns from the disabled list to start against the Astros on Wednesday. Right-hander Bryan Mitchell, currently on the seven-day concussion disabled list, is also expected to return as a long reliever who will provide length out of the bullpen.
Sabathia said that, even if he is not able to return to the mound, he will try to be a positive influence who can help the Yankees from the dugout and in the clubhouse.
"It's hard when you're not out on the field, but I've grinded with these guys all season," Sabathia said. "One-thousand percent, I'll stick around and try to be here as much as possible, go on road trips and see what happens."
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch, on Facebook and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.