Yankees LHP CC Sabathia hoping for strong return in 2015 after knee problems



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TAMPA, Florida — CC Sabathia threw his first outdoor bullpen session Saturday, and hopes to be on a mound a lot more this season.

The 34-year-old lefty was hobbled by a degenerative cartilage problem in his right knee last season and was done after having surgery in July.

"It's a bum knee," Sabathia said with a smile. "But it feels good right now. It's something I'm excited about this spring."

Sabathia had the knee checked Friday, and will receive injections and fluid drainage as needed.

"I didn't see him favor it," manager Joe Girardi said. "As I've said all along, I think you really have to get into the rigors of throwing 100 pitches, throwing every fifth day."

The six-time All-Star and 2007 AL Cy Young Award winner made only eight starts last year and finished 3-4 with a career-worst 5.28 ERA. He is 208-119 with a 3.63 ERA in 14 seasons.

"Not being able to play last year was tough," Sabathia said. "I was sitting at home all summer and watching these guys play, it was hard. I have a lot to prove. Come back healthy, trying to help this staff and team."

NOTES: Girardi said there's no telling yet on how Alex Rodriguez will be used. Rodriguez, who turns 40 in July, returns from a one-year suspension and is scheduled to report Wednesday. "I can't give you an exact role of what it is," Girardi said. "A lot of it depends on how his productivity is. And if it's good, obviously, there's different things that we can do. You can DH him, you can play him at play. I will talk to him about some first base days. Your hope is that he's so productive he's in the lineup almost every day." ... Sabathia on the return of Rodriguez: "For us, he's coming back to the team. He's served his suspension, and it's pretty much over." ... Nine-time NHL Stanley Cup-winning coach Scotty Bowman was in attendance and watched part of batting practice with Girardi. ... OF Carlos Beltran (elbow surgery) went through a full workout, including batting practice. He is expected to be ready for opening day.

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