Numerous Yankee pitchers spent time on the disabled list last season, but for some reason the only one we're hearing updates about is CC Sabathia. Maybe it's because he spends time going to sporting events and the like during the offseason. Sabathia spoke to the media on Friday and stated that his rehab is on track. That's the position that he's maintained for months now, but it sounds like his knee hasn't been put to the test yet. CC said that he's been playing catch and that he will start to throw bullpen sessions by the end of January. When asked about his expectations for the 2015 season, he said that he just wanted to stay healthy.
As for the other pitchers coming back from injuries, we may have to wait until spring training starts to hear any updates (pitchers and catchers report February 20th!). We know that Ivan Nova started throwing from 25 feet in September, but even a scan of his social media doesn't reveal much more information other than the fact that he has done some fishing over the offseason. Nova missed almost the entire 2014 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery. Assuming that his rehab stays on track, he's expected to be ready to return to the rotation at the end of May. Masahiro Tanaka also missed a significant portion of the season after he experienced a small tear in his UCL. Though he was able to return before the season ended, he only made a handful of starts with varying success. Brian Cashman spoke about him a few weeks ago and said that the Yankees would keep their "fingers crossed" about the health of his elbow moving forward. Michael Pineda also missed time with a right shoulder injury, but he made quite a few starts at the end of the season so there shouldn't be quite as much concern about his health as the others. Still, the rotation could wind up being decimated, again, if all of these players aggravate their old injuries.
While it's good to hear CC say that his knee feels fine, the Yankees won't really know how his knee will hold up until he starts pitching off the mound. He should obviously experience more strain when he extends that right knee during his delivery than he would just playing catch. It will be interesting to see how he holds up pitching on the rotation schedule. If it's too much for his knee and not enough rest time, the Yankees could consider having him pitch out of the bullpen, since that would amount to less innings and would provide him with more recovery time. CC will earn $23 million this year, so it would be unfortunate to see him earn that working from the 'pen, but that would be better than the alternative. It's not difficult to imagine a scenario where CC's knee is perfectly fine, but he still is unable to pitch effectively. He's owed $25 million in 2016, and has a vesting option for $25 million in 2017 that will vest unless various things happen to his shoulder. Because he's owed so much money, it's incredibly difficult to picture the Yankees releasing him, and seems improbable that any team would trade for him. It looks like we're stuck with him unless he's absolutely unable to pitch and undergoes what would likely be career-ending reconstructive knee surgery. All we can really do is join Cashman and cross our fingers for the health of the entire rotation.
Can you imagine any scenario that involves the Yankees just releasing CC Sabathia?