CC gives promising outlook on throwing arm

CC gives promising outlook on throwing arm

NEW YORK -- CC Sabathia has been so encouraged about the health of his left arm that he said Wednesday his training is "light years" ahead of where it has been in past offseasons, raising his optimism level about a productive 2016 campaign.

Speaking at Yankee Stadium while greeting fans as part of the 22nd annual Yankees Holiday Food Drive, Sabathia said that he has not stopped throwing since the end of the regular season and is excited about rejoining the team's rotation.

"I'm probably light years ahead, being able to fully work out and do the things I want to do totally healthy," Sabathia said. "The workouts are a lot tougher, but it's kind of what I need at this point in my career."

Sabathia left the Yankees at the conclusion of the regular season, seeking treatment for alcohol abuse. During his month-long stay in rehab, Sabathia said that he was able to find ways to keep his arm loose and strong.

"I'm one of those guys that never stops throwing, so I found a couple of guys in rehab to throw the football with," Sabathia said. "Then when I came out, I picked up the baseball and have been throwing."

Yankees manager Joe Girardi said that he has seen Sabathia frequently this offseason at Yankee Stadium, where the left-hander uses the club's training facilities a few times each week. Girardi said that Sabathia's decision to seek treatment could have a positive impact on the 35-year-old's performance.

"I hope that he got a weight off his shoulders, number one," Girardi said. "I think that's important. I don't think anyone wants to carry a weight around. If you're hiding something, it's difficult to go through life. Hopefully it allows him to be more effective."

Sabathia said that he speaks regularly with a sponsor, though that person will not travel with him on the road next year, and that it has been a relief not to keep his issue as a secret.

"I'm in the early stages. I'm always going to be recovering," Sabathia said. "I have the support of my family, my organization and my team, my friends. I feel pretty good about where I'm at and I look forward to just getting back out on the field and being myself."

Sabathia also said that he will continue to wear a brace on his right knee when throwing off the mound, with plans to strap that back on in January. Sabathia was 6-10 with a 4.73 ERA in 29 starts last year, but he went 2-1 with a 2.17 ERA in five September starts while experimenting with the brace.

"I'm definitely looking forward to it, to getting back out there," Sabathia said. "I'm ready to get to Spring Training. I'm excited."

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.