Four months later, CC revisits Phils
Having won championship, Yankees' ace draws Halladay
TAMPA, Fla. -- You can bet a cheesesteak that some people are going to be very excited by the next matchup on tap for the Yankees, offering about as marquee a pitching billing as you can conjure up for the second game of Grapefruit League action.
CC Sabathia will take the mound for the Bombers against the Phillies in a rematch of the 2009 World Series on Thursday, a 1:05 p.m. ET start at Bright House Field in Clearwater, Fla., that will be shown on live MLB.TV.
On the home team's side? No less of a competitor than Roy Halladay, the former American League Cy Young Award-winning gunslinger, the newest ace in the National League East and a certain right arm the Yankees are exceptionally happy to see leave their division.
You might think such a faceoff would add some jazz for the players involved, but Sabathia said that he didn't expect any added sizzle to the game, joking that he'd be in the dugout "eating seeds and goofing off" while Halladay works.
"His games are usually quick," Sabathia said. "He's a great pitcher, but it's Spring Training. If I face off [against] him in the season, I'll probably be more concerned, because I'll probably have to hit."
Coming off a 19-win season that saw him secure MVP honors in the AL Championship Series against the Angels, Sabathia is more concerned with getting his own business under control and helping the Yankees repeat as World Series champs.
New York modified its early spring schedule slightly for Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Andy Pettitte after last November's Fall Classic, having them throw three bullpen sessions and one batting-practice session before making the standard six starts in exhibition games.
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"It makes a difference, not throwing as much," Sabathia said. "Usually, you throw two batting practices and things like that. Getting right into games definitely helps, not throwing a lot of BP and bullpens."
Not that Sabathia complains about taking the ball, having fired two complete games and thrown at least seven innings in 24 of his 34 starts in 2009.
He made two starts against the Phillies in the World Series, falling victim to a stellar complete-game effort from Cliff Lee and two Chase Utley home runs in Game 1 at Yankee Stadium before helping to put New York one victory away from the title in Game 4, dodging damage through 6 2/3 gutsy innings and entrusting a one-run lead to the bullpen.
Had the Yankees gone to a Game 7, Sabathia would have started, but this scenario -- a breezy Grapefruit League assignment -- is surely much more preferable. He was asked if he at least had a score to settle with Utley.
"No," Sabathia said, laughing. "Come on."
Sabathia is expected to throw two innings or 35 pitches in Thursday's start, and after firing 28 pitches to his own hitters in batting practice, the burly left-hander feels like he's ready to get back out there against those red uniforms.
"I feel good," Sabathia said. "The bullpens have been going well. I'll be fine. I'm looking forward to it and getting used to pitching."
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.