Sabathia and Sanchez making progress for Yankees

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — CC Sabathia and Gary Sanchez took big steps forward for the New York Yankees on Friday.

Sabathia threw his first bullpen since having a heart procedure in December, and Sanchez played in his initial spring training game following a left shoulder injury.

Sabathia, who plans to retire after the season, threw 16 pitches.

The 38-year-old lefty had a stent inserted after a blockage was found in an artery from his heart. He has had chronic right knee problems that required several operations.

“Conditioning-wise, knee-wise, everything felt great,” Sabathia said. “It was exciting being able to get off the mound.”

Sanchez, coming back from surgery on Nov. 8, played four innings of defense and went 0 for 2 against the Baltimore Orioles.

“I knew it was something that was probably nagging him at different times (last year),” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “But I also felt like he was fine to impact the ball. I’m sure he grinded through some issues with it, though.”

The catcher struck out and had a potential two-run single taken away on a diving catch by center fielder Austin Hays.

“It felt normal,” Sanchez said through a translator. “Typical spring training. It was good to get into a game and get some at-bats. See the environment in a live game. Catching in a live game.”

Sanchez hit .186 with 18 homers and 53 RBIs in 89 games last year, making two trips to the disabled list because of a right groin strain.

Sabathia will work off a mound again Sunday and could throw batting practice in a week. He has a five-game suspension pending when the regular season begins for hitting Tampa Bay’s Jesus Sucre with a pitch in his final start last season.

Boone said it’s “a realistic expectation” that Sabathia will be ready to pitch in April.

“We haven’t really mapped out a timetable yet just because I haven’t thrown enough pitches off a mound,” Sabathia said. “I’m sure we’ll do that in the next couple days, but I’ve got plenty of time.”

“Plus, I’m suspended,” a smiling Sabathia added. “So, I get an extra week.”

The 2007 AL Cy Young Award winner with Cleveland, Sabathia is 246-153 with a 3.70 ERA and 2,986 strikeouts in 18 major league seasons. He was 9-7 with a 3.65 ERA in 29 starts last season. This will be his 11th year with the Yankees.


Yankees reliever Danny Farquhar will pitch in a game Saturday for the first time since collapsing in the Chicago White Sox dugout last April 20 because of a ruptured aneurysm and brain hemorrhage. … A decision could come in the next week or so on whether OF Jacoby Ellsbury (plantar fasciitis) will report to camp. He is rehabbing in Arizona. … SS Didi Gregorius (Tommy John surgery) could be cleared to take dry swings and hit off a tee in about 10 days.