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Yankees can't count on CC Sabathia defensively

Due to his knee problem, the Yankees expect Sabathia to be limited when it comes to covering or backing up bases.

Rob Carr/Getty Images

Going into this season, the Yankees have had no idea what to expect from CC Sabathia. The 34-year-old spent the majority of last season on the disabled list due to a degenerative right knee problem. He ended up undergoing knee surgery, and part of the rehab process involved receiving stem cell injections and platelet-rich plasma injections. Because it's a degenerative condition, there is no permanent solution, and the best that Sabathia can do is continue to treat it. Now that the season is underway, there have been two main concerns about Sabathia: how will he pitch and how will his knee hold up? It's too soon to definitively answer either of those questions, but after last night's start it's safe to say that the Yankees can't count on him to help defensively.

Last night marked his second start of the season, and by the second inning the Yankees needed Sabathia to cover first base. There was a runner on first when Chris Davis hit a ground ball into the shift. They got the out at second, but they didn't get the double play because Sabathia didn't cover first. He started to run that way, then he stopped midway to first and just watched Davis reach:

CC watching DP

Later in the same inning, Sabathia was charged with a throwing error after fielding a ball that rolled into the infield grass. He got to the ball in time, but his throw was low and hit the runner:

CC poor throw

Seeing the play again, it looked like it was a bad call, since the runner (Caleb Joseph) wasn't in the running lane at all from the moment he left the plate, but it wasn't challenged and that put another runner on base. Luckily, the Yankees were able to escape the inning without either of those runs scoring.

When asked about the error after the game, Sabathia blamed the wet, rainy field and his age, saying he "probably could have made that play [four years ago]." Manager Joe Girardi also took to his defense about CC not covering first base, citing both his large size, and the fact that Sabathia naturally falls towards the third base side when he finishes his delivery as potential challenges. He's also wearing a knee brace on the right knee, so that could impede his running ability. Going into last night's game, the Yankees were already aware that Sabathia would be limited in covering or backing up bases, but that doesn't make it easier to watch him not even make an effort, or give up free bases. In last night's game, his inability to cover first base didn't result in any runs scoring, but Sabathia might not get so lucky in the future.