CC Sabathia threw his last pitch at Yankee Stadium in Game 4 of the ALCS, walking off the mound to an ovation after a shoulder injury forced him to head off. However, if that gruesome shoulder injury didn't take place, Sabathia revealed that he would've come back for his 20th MLB season.
Yes, you read that correctly. But it wouldn't have been as a starter. On the latest episode of Sabathia's "R2C2" Podcast with YES Network's Ryan Ruocco, Sabathia said he liked being in his bullpen role and thought he could certainly work in it next season.
"Oh, next summer I would've been coming back for sure. 1000 percent," Sabathia said. "If I didn't do that with the shoulder, I would've been coming back."
Sabathia has been saying all season that this would be his last season in the league, and as he put it, the baseball gods were looking out for him with this injury so that remained the case.
The veteran lefty also revealed just what kind of damage he did to his shoulder this season, specifically in that final at-bat against George Springer. Sabathia had been shaking his shoulder in discomfort in the two batters before that, but with a 2-1 count on Springer, he threw a slider that sent head trainer Steve Donahue running out to the mound.
Sabathia knew his shoulder was thrown out, especially after saying he felt it sublux (partial dislocation). But that wasn't going to stop him from trying to throw out one last warmup pitch to see if he could battle through the inning. It was no good, and he was sent off with a roaring ovation from the Yankee Stadium crowd.
"I got a tear in my rotator cuff, my labrum and my bicep," Sabathia explained. "And I did something to the capsule...It's done.
"When I'm out there on the mound, I'm going to give you everything I have. When I threw that pitch, my shoulder f---ing went with the ball. That's just how it felt. I knew it and I was just hoping it was going to get better. I came set the next pitch and I couldn't even grip the ball. I wasn't even gripping the ball until I was like about to let it go. That's how much pain I was in."
Ruocco said fans won't just remember Sabathia for his dominant years as an ace in the league, but the warrior mindset that he came to the mound with each start as well. And this was the prime example of that. Sabathia gave his all, and until he was physically unable to perform, he walked off.
Now, Sabathia said he has a lot to do in November, so he'll look into fixing his injuries in December. But he has time to do that now that he definitely won't be back.
He knows it's the right time to make that call.
"Just from every aspect," he said. "My age-wise, being in the clubhouse every day, being away from my kids. My time just passed."