CC Sabathia’s announcement that he would enter rehabilitation for alcohol abuse on the eve of the Yankees’ Wild Card playoff game last October stunned fans and those throughout the industry, and now, the left-hander offers an honest account of the factors that led to his decision over at the Players’ Tribune. Sabathia explains the reasons that he first turned to alcohol and the way in which his addiction evolved in an extremely candid, personal chronicle of his battle with the disease. Sabathia details his time spent in rehab and thanks his family as well as friends in the game such as David Ortiz, Torii Hunter and David Price for their support throughout the process. The big lefty writes that he feels mentally stronger than he ever has heading into a season and offers a message of hope to those that are going through their own battles with addiction.
Some notes from the AL East…
- Prior to Jason Heyward’s trade to the Cardinals last offseason, the Yankees and Braves discussed a blockbuster framework that would’ve sent Heyward, Andrelton Simmons, David Carpenter, Melvin Upton and Chris Johnson to New York in exchange for Luis Severino, Aaron Judge, Manny Banuelos, Gary Sanchez and Ian Clarkin, according to a report from Jon Heyman (links to Twitter). Per Heyman, New York ultimately wouldn’t pull the trigger on the deal. A later, much smaller trade would see Carpenter and lefty Chasen Shreve sent to the Yankees in exchange for Banuelos. Heyward, meanwhile, was dealt to the Cardinals in a trade that sent Shelby Miller to the Braves. Atlanta, of course, flipped Miller to the D-backs this winter in a potentially franchise-altering deal.
- Blue Jays GM Ross Atkins joined Buster Olney on today’s Baseball Tonight Podcast (audio link, with Atkins appearing at about the 29-minute mark) to discuss his background in baseball and a few Jays topics. Olney asked Atkins about the reported near-trade to acquire Jay Bruce which would’ve sent Michael Saunders to the Angels as part of a three-team deal. “[Saunders] has been unbelievable,” said Atkins when asked about the rumored swap. “With the rumors, spending time with him about that, he was as humble, as professional and as committed as possible to make sure that this will be the best trade that never happened.” Atkins went on to praise Saunders’ mobility and a pair of homers against inside fastballs — one from an opposing lefty. The inability to turn on inside pitches is often a concern with players coming off knee surgery, Atkins said, but Saunders to this point has shown no such ill effects.
- Olney also asked about reports of Jose Bautista’s lofty asking price in extension talks with the Blue Jays. Atkins called Bautista “one of the smartest guys” he’s been around and said interactions with his right fielder have been nothing but positive. “My interactions with him, contrary to what people may think based on what’s been read, have been incredible,” Atkins said. “They’ve been amicable, they’ve been warm, they’ve been open, full of laughter and really, full of positivity. … I think, unfairly, some things have been portrayed that aren’t necessarily true. It’s unfortunate that there’s been somewhat of a negative light cast on his potential demands, and the focus has gone away from what a talented player he is and what a great person he is.”
- Red Sox prospect Michael Kopech, a right-hander that received a 50-game suspension during last year’s minor league season for use of the banned stimulant Oxilofrine, has run into some trouble once again, writes Rob Bradford of WEEI.com. Kopech suffered a fractured right hand in an altercation with a teammate, per Bradford. “It was stupid,” GM Mike Hazen told Bradford of Kopech’s incident. “He’s going to have to grow up, obviously, with the things that have happened so far. He’s got a long road to go to get to the big leagues. He obviously has a ton of potential. He’s got a long way to go. These types of things, you don’t want to put more barriers in front of you than playing professional baseball already presents you.” Kopech was selected with the 33rd overall pick of the 2014 draft as compensation for the Red Sox’ loss of Jacoby Ellsbury in free agency. When he was able to take the field last year, the 19-year-old logged a 2.63 ERA with 9.7 K/9 against 3.7 BB/9 in 65 innings (15 starts, one relief appearance).
- Pablo Sandoval has been working with Red Sox infield instructor Brian Butterfield to alter the positioning of his glove on certain plays as well as his general first-step quickness, manager John Farrell tells reporters, including Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald. Mastrodonato notes that while Farrell has raved about the preparation of Hanley Ramirez, he’s been more cautious in his descriptions of Sandoval, telling the media today that there’s still “work to be done” in terms of his defense and finding his timing at the plate. Sandoval, per Mastrodonato, says he’s been focusing quite a bit on his first step and spent the entire offseason hitting right-handed in an effort to get his right-handed swing back to its peak levels. (Sandoval, for those who weren’t aware, abandoned switch-hitting about a third of the way through the 2015 season.)