CC Sabathia talks game plan to staying sober this season

CC Sabathia talks game plan to staying sober this season

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CC Sabathia talks game plan to staying sober this season

TAMPA – CC Sabathia first told his story about his battle with alcohol addiction back in November, the first of a handful of times the lefthander has publicly addressed his personal issues this winter.

Friday, the Yankees pitcher discussed those demons with the media for what he said will be the last time, part of Sabathia’s plan to move forward and get the most he can out of his remaining years in the game.

Sabathia’s mind is now focused on baseball as he kicks off his eighth spring training with the Yankees, one he has been looking forward to more than any since 2009.

“Working out and going down to the Stadium twice a week, it’s nothing like getting down here, putting on a uniform and getting ready for the season,” Sabathia said. “Given everything I went through in October, I was just excited to get back with my teammates, get down here and get to work.”

October, of course, was when Sabathia checked himself in a Connecticut rehab facility to deal with his alcohol addition. Sabathia left the Yankees on the final day of the regular season, making his announcement that he was entering rehab the following day as the team was preparing for the American League wild card game.

“I think it’s kind of well-documented what I went through in October; I felt like I needed to get some help and decided to do that, entered the rehab facility and it was a good experience,” Sabathia said. “I was nervous and scared and I didn’t know what to expect, but looking back at it now, it’s something I’m definitely glad I did.

“I was able to come out after that and just have a good offseason. I started working out early. I felt rested. I gave my knee a chance to calm down and I was able to have a good offseason as far as working out and integrating back into my family. It’s been a good experience for me so far.”

During an extensive interview in November, Sabathia told the Daily News he would binge-drink by himself in his hotel room during road trips, never letting others see how severe his problem was.

“I didn’t have anybody judging me,” Sabathia said Friday. “I could drink as much as I want, whether that was the whole minibar or just one drink.”

Those road trips won’t start again until April, but Sabathia believes he knows what he must do in order to avoid falling back into his old pattern. He is also in constant contact with his AA sponsor,

CC Sabathia plans on staying busy and keeping constant communication with his AA sponsor, especially when the Yankees are on the road.Chris O’Meara/AP

CC Sabathia plans on staying busy and keeping constant communication with his AA sponsor, especially when the Yankees are on the road.

“Identifying it, getting ahead of it, is the biggest thing,” Sabathia said. “Keeping myself occupied.”

During his early years with the Yankees, Sabathia would routinely organize group outings to events such as NBA games. He plans to get back into that role of social chairman, relying on friends, family and teammates to help him along the way.

“I’ve got a bunch of different hobbies now, do different things, so I’ll be able to kind of keep myself busy with video games, hanging out with my teammates,” Sabathia said. “It’s something that I kind of got away from the past couple of years, just kind of shutting myself into my hotel room and doing my deed. I’ll be with my teammates, hanging out with the guys in the same role I was when I first got here. Very social.”

“Between him, his family, his teammates, this organization, hopefully everybody’s there and he knows that he can rely on a lot of people to help him fight along the way,” GM Brian Cashman said. “But I do know it’s a challenge on a daily basis that never goes away.”

As for Sabathia’s role on the field, he will spend the next six weeks trying to show he’s deserving of a place in the rotation, a battle that will likely come down to him and Ivan Nova for the final spot.

Although his 2015 numbers were below-average – 6-0 with a 4.73 ERA in 29 starts – he posted a 2.17 ERA during his final five starts, getting help from a new brace that allowed him to finish his pitches without fear of hyperextending his degenerative right knee.

“I left off on a good note and feel good about that,” said Sabathia, who said he weighs 305 pounds after pitching at 312 last season. “Hopefully I can get some of that momentum rolling in, have a good spring and go out and try to get me a spot. I’m not going to treat spring training like the regular season and beat myself up about starts, but I definitely want to go out and pitch well, just kind of go off that momentum I had last year.”

Twenty wins or 200 innings are no longer the goals Sabathia sets for himself before the season. His ambition is far simpler.

“Staying healthy,” he said. “That’s something I haven’t been in the past three years, being able to go out and make all my starts. I feel like if I can do that then hopefully I can help this team win.”

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Baseball – NY Daily News

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