BRONX — It was a solemn afternoon before Game 5 of the American League Championship Series as the media gathered in the press conference room and sat in front of a tender Carsten Charles Sabathia.
It wasn’t the fierce, unapologetic CC we are use to seeing before a pivotal playoff game but a CC that has reached peace with the way his 20-year major league career has ended.
According to the Yankees, Sabathia suffered a subluxation of his left shoulder joint. It would be the injury that would push Sabathia to bid farewell to the life he’s lived since taking part of Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities Initiative (RBI) when he was a teenager.
“I told Amber last night that this was the best way for it to end for me, because of the way I’ve been feeling, loving the bullpen, jogging out, feeling pretty good.” Sabathia said Friday afternoon. “So knowing that obviously the way I feel now I can’t — I think it’s just kind of fitting. I threw until I couldn’t anymore.”
As Sabathia walked off the mound, he buried his face into the crevices of his glove as the emotion of stepping off the field overcame the 39-year-old veteran. The 49,067 fans at Yankee Stadium stood and watched as their beloved pitcher doned the pinstripes on the mound one last time. Chants of “CC! CC! CC!” echoed through the tunnels of the stadium, a stadium he helped inaugurate with a World Series championship in October 2009.
“I think that’s what got me more emotional than actual injury. Just hearing the fans and the way that they were cheering me and it was just — makes me feel good. Makes me feel like I made the right choice 11 years ago. I love these fans. I love this organization. It was just awesome to hear that and get that on the way out.”
The Yankees will have to battle the Astros without their dignified leader on the field, however, Sabathia will remain in the Yankees dugout to motivate his team to win the next three games as they face elimination going into Friday night’s game at Yankee Stadium.
“We’ve dealt with so many injuries, not just myself,” Sabathia said about the 2019 Yankees. “That’s a tough group in there and our slogan has been: Next man up. We’ve overcome so many different adversities all throughout the year and been able to get to this point. So, yeah, we’re in a tough spot, backs against the wall, but I feel good about our guys and our chances tonight. Just one game at a time.”
Sabathia has one message for the fans in New York who welcomed the CY Young winner with open arms in December 2008:
“Message to the fans will be just thank you. It’s been an amazing 11 years. I’ve loved every minute of it here in the Bronx, and really worldwide, Yankee universe is worldwide. I’ve enjoyed being a part of it, so thank you.”
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