(Is there a handful of Captain Cruch in there? Courtesy of Getty Images)
News started to trickle out yesterday on CC Sabathia's current status and the Yankees' plans for re-integrating him into the rotation after the All Star break this week. I commented before on how the timing of his injury was "perfect" for allowing him to get some rest and make sure that his groin strain was fully healed before coming back, and my hope/worry was that the Yankees would not rush him after the ASB just to get him back in the rotation and would make sure that he was 100% before activating him. Given the plan that was described yesterday, it seems like the Yankees are planning to do just that and that's a damn good thing.
Sabathia threw a bullpen session yesterday and reported no problems. He's scheduled to throw another one tomorrow in KC and then throw a brief simulated game on Friday, the Yankees' first game after the ASB, before being activated. The Yankees have staggered their post-ASB rotation in a way that makes CC the 5th starter in order, which means he won't throw his first real game back until July 17th and will have had close to 3 weeks off since initially being put on the DL at the end of June.
Given that CC is the staff's unquestioned ace, has experienced some command and velocity issues this season, and suffered an injury that can linger and get worse if not allowed to fully heal, this is the absolute right way for the Yankees to handle this. They've managed to extend their division lead in the nearly 2 weeks since CC went on the DL, and so there is no reason to rush him back to help stabilize a rotation that has handled itself very well in his absence. CC is more important to the team's long-term success than the short-term, and with the Yankees in the position they're currently in, they have the luxury of being able to be cautious with CC.
All expectations are that his bullpen sesh tomorrow and sim game on Friday will go off without a hitch. But if they don't, the Yankees need to maintain this cautious approach and not push CC to come back until he's absolutely ready. They've got plenty of breathing room in the division and postseason races right now, and should use as much of it as they have to if it means giving the big fella more time to get 100%. The time he's already had off should serve him well down the stretch and give him more gas in the tank than his competitors during the late part of the season, and more time would presumably make him even fresher late in the season. No sense in risking that if you don't have to.