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Yankees’ Sabathia Vows To Return To Ace Form Next Season

Left-Hander Went 14-13 With Career-High 4.78 ERA In '13
CC Sabathia (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

CC Sabathia (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) – CC Sabathia vows he’s going to be the New York Yankees’ ace next year.

“I think I’ll be back to myself,” Sabathia said on Tuesday. “I know a lot of people have written me off and said I’ve thrown too many innings and whatever, but I’ll still be here and still be accountable. I’ll still be the guy that signed up in 2009.”

It’s been an extremely frustrating season for the 2007 AL Cy Young Award winner, one that ended a week early when he sustained a Grade 2 left hamstring strain in a start against the San Francisco Giants on Friday.

Thing is, that outing was also his most encouraging.

“Pitching against San Francisco I felt more back to myself morseo than any other start,” Sabathia said Tuesday. “Just going out there and being a bully. That’s something that I felt like I was before and kind of lost that this year.”

Sabathia pitched into the eighth that night, despite hurting his leg in the second. He allowed only one run and seven hits. The Yankees revealed his injury Monday, an off day.

Phil Hughes will take Sabathia’s spot in the rotation on Wednesday against the Tampa Bay Rays as the Yankees desperately try to cling to a shot at the second AL wild card. New York enters the game five games back with a “tragic number” of one for elimination.

Coming back from offseason elbow surgery, Sabathia went 14-13 with a 4.78 ERA, the highest of his 13-year career. In a season marred by injuries to many of the team’s stars, the Yankees were counting on Sabathia to be a steady presence that helped lead New York to another postseason trip. Instead, the velocity on his fastball was down, he gave up 28 homers and he was prone to allowing big innings.

Sabathia had the most losses of his career and his fewest wins since signing a $161 million, seven-year deal before the 2009 season – amended two years later to add at least $30 million – with New York.

“The interesting thing is he got hurt on Friday and I thought that might’ve been the most consistent his fastball has been the whole year,” manager Joe Girardi said. “I think he ended on a good note and you’ll see a different CC next year. … I still look at him as an ace.”

Instead of Sabathia being the go-to guy, Hiroki Kuroda carried the Yankees’ rotation for much of the year.

“I feel like I could have gave Hiro some help,” Sabathia said. “We would be in the position we want to be in. It’s tough in that sense, and even not being able to come down the stretch and pitch against these guys when we really need it.”

The big left-hander conceded that at 33 years old – and having logged over 2,700 innings – he’s not going to be the same power pitcher he once was. It took getting over his stubbornness to acknowledge that.

With help from pitching coach Larry Rothschild, he began reinventing himself – and he’s happy with the results.

“There were a couple of things in my delivery we were working on,” Sabathia said. “In the past week or two or three weeks we started in the bullpen and looking at video and started getting on the right track. It’s very encouraging going forward knowing what I need to do to be right.”

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(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)