The Yankees announced that CC Sabathia came through his bullpen session OK and that he will in fact pitch Friday night, as scheduled, against the Mets at Citi Field. Is this a good thing? Putting your Fantasy Baseball emotions aside for a moment, are the Yankees sacrificing their long-term investment by pushing Sabathia to the mound in the short term?
These questions all fall into the recent debates of management (and yes, this includes Joe Girardi) and its handling of the high-priced stars. With that in mind, I went to the injury expert, Baseball Prospectus’s Will Carroll, to get the skinny on biceps strains and to pick his brain on how he would deal with the big lefty.
NOTE: This interview took place Wednesday morning, hours before the bullpen session.
Will Weiss: I’m seeing conflicting info between what Sabathia and (GM Brian) Cashman are telling the New York press corps (what else is new?). What do you see as the potential short- and long-term ramifications of this injury? … If you were on the Yankees’ training staff, what would you recommend? Me, I’m protecting the 8-year, $161 million investment and shutting him down until after the All-Star break.
Will Carroll: What’s Cashman saying? I’d shadow him and be ultra-cautious, but shutting him down for three starts? I’d have to know there’s some kind of serious injury before doing that in as tight a race as this is.
WW: Cashman’s not saying anything except, “Let’s see how he feels and evaluate him after his bullpen session.” He’s taking the cautious approach.
WC: Smart. I always feel good when I agree with Cash.
The thing about Sabathia is he’s very confident, but that can be shaken. When he injured his arm back in ‘04, he freaked. It was good for him, but took him a long time to get that swagger back. I think you have to listen to him.
WW: How does a biceps injury, even stiffness, affect his success, given he’s a big powerful guy who’s thrown a lot of pitches? His mechanics are good. What causes this type of strain?
WC: Could be any number of things. Could be a cramp, electrolyte imbalance, might have tightened up or not loosened up due to a million factors. The key is it wasn’t sore after his last start and from what I understand, he wasn’t complaining about it in pre-game, so it’s most likely the start of a strain or cramp.
WW: How cautious should you typically be in this situation?
WC: Reasonably, but again, you have to deal with him as a person. Do you trust he’s telling you how it feels truthfully? Is he consistent in strength tests? Is there inflammation?
Will’s questions, as well as any questions the rest of us have, will be answered soon enough.