Yankees manager Aaron Boone announced on Thursday the team's probable starting pitchers for the first three games of the ALDS.
Though CC Sabathia wasn't expected to be one of them, Boone also announced that the left-hander would be left off the series roster entirely.
"It's tough," Sabathia said at Thursday's media availability. "Obviously being here and not being able to participate in the series is rough. But I didn't want to put the team in jeopardy. I didn't want to be selfish, go out there hurt and put the team in a bad spot."
Sabathia has been hampered by right knee inflammation all season, an injury which has led to three separate stints on the injured list. But Boone said his absence from the ALDS roster was unrelated to that injury, but was due to another one.
"It's actually more shoulder and not bouncing back," Boone said. "He just wasn't bouncing back as well as we hoped in Texas. He ended up getting a cortisone shot and was able to go out and throw in a sim game on Tuesday.
"Frankly, he threw the ball pretty well. But just not quite where it needs to be in the kind of role we're going to ask him to be in where he has the potential to get up on the spot and maybe have to get up later in the game. He's probably not real comfortable with that."
Sabathia pitched in relief for the first time in 561 career regular season appearances on Sept. 24, when he pitched a scoreless inning against the Rays with two strikeouts. Prior to that, he made his only other career appearance out of the bullpen in the 2011 ALDS, allowing one run in 1.1 innings in Game 5 against the Tigers, a game which the Yankees went on to lose by a score of 3-2.
"I'm comfortable in any role," Sabathia said. "That's no question. I think when it comes to winning a championship, you've got to check your egos out the door.
Boone said the plan in in this year's playoffs was to use Sabathia out of the bullpen exclusively. Despite the setback, Boone believes it's still possible the 39-year-old can return should the Yankees advance.
"He'll continue to work and try and get himself as ready as he can to be an option moving forward," Boone said. "But we felt like this was the best thing for him and for us."
Sabathia added that, despite him announcing earlier this year that this season would be his last, he's just focused on trying to get back on the field.
"I'm just looking forward to having the chance to participate in the playoffs," Sabathia said. "Hopefully get healthy enough to pitch and focus on winning a championship."