From Tyler Kepner (NY Times):
C.C. Sabathia threw 241 innings for the Cleveland Indians in 2007, going 19-7 to win the American League Cy Young Award. But by October he was a different pitcher. In three starts against the Yankees and the Red Sox, he was 1-2 with an 8.80 earned run average, with 13 walks and 14 strikeouts.
That winter, Sabathia said, he made an adjustment he came to regret.
“I threw a lot of innings and I kind of pushed my throwing back, and I kind of suffered for it,” Sabathia said of 2007. “I got a dead arm later in the spring and I went into the season with a little bit of a dead arm.”
It showed. In his first four starts of last season, Sabathia was 0-3 with a 13.50 earned run average. He recovered to fashion another sterling season for the Indians and the Milwaukee Brewers, working 253 innings and making his final four starts (including one in the playoffs) on short rest.
Sabathia said he asked for the ball with the Brewers, ignoring pleas from his agent not to overdo things on the eve of free agency. And when the off-season came around, Sabathia did not wait long to start throwing again. He would not repeat his mistake of the previous winter.
“This year I started playing catch like right after Thanksgiving, just three days a week — Monday, Wednesday and Friday, long-tossing — and I started throwing bullpens in the middle of January,” Sabathia said. “I didn’t want that lag again this year. I feel really good.”
It’s imperative that CC starts the 2009 season right. While it’s important for the team, rattling off a few dominant starts right out of the gate is also very important for CC. He’s living under the weight of a huge contract and big expectations, so a strong start would do wonders for his comfort level.
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