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CC Sabathia sat down for an interview with Meredith Marakovits on "Yankees Hot Stove" last night to talk about his 2013 struggles and what he has to do to overcome them. As part of the interview, CC downplayed the concerns about his lost velocity this past season, saying ""It doesn't mean a lot. I've figured out I can pitch with it or without it. Whatever that is. Whether it's 90 to 92, or 92 to 94. I can pitch both ways."
That statement should come as good news from the guy the Yankees are hoping will regain his ace form in 2014. Considering how much he struggled with his 4-seam fastball in 2013, however, the statement rings a bit hollow. As much as we'd all love to give the big fella the benefit of the doubt, his failure to figure it out over the course of last season makes the statement more of a "let's wait and see" situation.
Sabathia said he's healthy and feels good, and he was supposed to return to his regular offseason throwing program after missing it last offseason. That's reason for optimism and his offspeed stuff is still plenty good enough to get guys out. If he can improve his fastball command, it shouldn't be too hard for a pitcher of his caliber to "figure out how to get guys out" in 2014. Tanaka or no Tanaka, the Yankees need a bounce back from CC this season and his fastball is going to be the key to that. If he's feeling good about it right now, that's a good start.