"I thought he looked pretty good. I think he got up around 60 pitches, four innings. Our next step is really to see how he feels in the next couple days, how the knee reacts to what we did today," Girardi said. "If it's good, we'll probably put him in the rotation."
Sabathia, who is 4-9 on the season with a 5.27 ERA in 24 starts, seemed to be pleased with how his knee held up Friday. The veteran left-hander originally went on the disabled list with right knee inflammation following an Aug. 23 start against the Indians.
Now Sabathia will pitch while wearing a knee brace, which he said offers him both support and flexibility when he moves. Most importantly, it permits him to throw freely without any pain. Prior to the brace, Sabathia had just been wearing a sleeve over the knee, which didn't offer as much support.
"I think the brace kind of holds my knee in one spot, not letting me get that grinding feeling, twisting and turning," Sabathia said. "I tested it as much as I could and I let a lot of them go, so I felt pretty good.
"Before, I felt it on a couple of pitches here and there in the bullpen, here and there playing catch. Throughout this whole last 10 days of playing catch, I haven't felt it one time with the brace on."
When the injury first happened, Sabathia seemed to at least entertain the idea of coming out of the bullpen if that's what the Yankees needed, but Girardi said Friday he wants to keep him in the rotation.
"I think it helps our rotation all around, and it also helps to have a left-hander in your rotation, as well," Girardi said. "Physically, we've had concerns all year and we've kind of done this all year. Sometimes we didn't know who was going to make the start to break it up, but if everything is OK, we know."
There was a time last week when Girardi feared Sabathia wouldn't be able to pitch again in 2015. Now that the Yankees have received good news and it seems like Sabathia should be ready to return Wednesday as the Yanks continue to make a playoff push, Girardi is relieved.
"We weren't sure what we were going to get when we saw the MRI, and the good thing is the MRI came back basically the same as it's been, which allowed us to proceed forward," Girardi said. "He felt better and felt comfortable wearing the brace, which allowed us to move a little bit faster. So I am surprised."