CC Sabathia is pitching his final season in a big league uniform. His body is barking loudly though, and we can only hope the push for Cooperstown is worth it.
Ken Rosenthal reports in The Athletic that CC Sabathia has undergone heart surgery to have a clot in an artery taken care of with a stent to open the artery. The procedure is quite standard, it’s not life-threatening, and there is no invasive cutting (I’ve had it done myself). Thus, Sabathia will quickly be up and ready to begin the season on schedule.
When we recall images of a major league pitcher, tall, lean, and super-athletic are likely to lead us to Clayton Kershaw, Steve Carlton, Bob Gibson, and those types. CC Sabathia, on the other hand, is an aberration of that image, joining others like Bartolo Colon and Mickey Lolich, who look like they’ve been poured into their uniforms.
Yankees fans have learned over the past ten years that “looks” have nothing to do with Sabathia’s performance on the field. His tenure with the team traces all the way back to the last time the Yankees won a World Series in 2009, Sabathia’s first season with the Yankees.
Since then, Sabathia has continued to pitch at a high level, while also contributing as one of the go-to guys in the Yankees clubhouse. He’s currently at 246 wins, looking perhaps for a few more to reach the 250 mark, which puts Sabathia within reach of Cooperstown and the Baseball Hall Of Fame.
Perhaps like you, I didn’t realize that according to Baseball Reference, the average number of wins for pitchers in the Hall is only 248. With just ten wins in 2019, only 32 pitchers (out of 78 in Cooperstown) will have a higher win total than CC Sabathia.
But here’s the kicker. CC Sabathia has thrown 3,470 innings throughout his career. Doing some quick math, if we take a conservative number like 15 pitches thrown per inning, this means Sabathia has delivered more than 52,000 pitches before he throws his first pitch this season, his 19th in the big leagues.
In fact, of all active pitchers, no one has thrown more innings than CC Sabathia (Colon, Justin Verlander, and Zach Greinke rank two through four).
CC Sabathia is a “throwback,” and his competitive spirit is self-evident to anyone who has recently has seen him pitch. Completely transforming himself from a rear back and let it go, pitcher, throwing 95-97 mph with no effort, Sabathia now pitches with guile and deception, still getting hitters out.
Still, none of his success has come without a price. Balky knees carrying the full weight of 300 pounds landing for each of those 52,000 pitches has taken its toll. Surgeries and stints on the DL during the season have allowed the Energizer Bunny in Sabathia to keep on going.
Now, with the early detection of an abnormality regarding his heart and blood flow, there is cause for more concern, especially when you consider that Sabathia is not working at a desk, like myself and most of the other half-million other individuals who have angioplasty surgery each year.
According to Westfield, N.J., cardiologist Dr. Alan Kalischer, a stent at Sabathia’s age isn’t routine.
From the sidelines, as fans of the Yankees and CC Sabathia, we trust that the organization, his family, as well as himself, will monitor his health closely as the season moves along. Remembering that Sabathia is already better than half the pitchers in the Hall of Fame should mean that bowing out early, if necessary, is a wise choice.
On the other hand though, wouldn’t it be something to see CC Sabathia on the mound starting a World Series game in October…