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A shot at another World Series ring is the only thing keeping CC Sabathia on the mound


BOSTON — CC Sabathia is hanging on for the ring. The 39-year-old veteran left-hander admitted Monday that he has not been pain-free in his arthritic right knee for years, but the thought that this 2019 Yankees team is set up to twin a World Series keeps him battling.

“That’s the only thing. I think if this team wasn’t in position to win a championship, I probably would have had a surgery a long time ago,” Sabathia said before Monday’s Red Sox-Yankees finale at Fenway Park.

Sabathia will come off the injured list on Wednesday and make an abbreviated start against the Tigers. That in part could be an audition to convince the Yankees that he can contribute to this team in the playoffs. He knows his role may have to change in October, but he is willing to do anything for another ring.

He left his last start, Aug. 30, after just three innings work unable to bear the pain in the knee. At the time, he looked frustrated and uncertain of his future.

“I don’t think anything was as bad as (2017) in August, when I walked off. I was basically ready to retire,” Sabathia said. “ I get frustrated because I can’t go out and perform. I still feel like I can pitch, I still feel like I can help this team. I still feel like my arm is healthy, but it;s just my knee. I get frustrated. The next day, I can realize it’s something I have to deal with every day.”

Sabathia will retire at the end of the season and expects to have knee-replacement surgery. Sunday night, the Red Sox honored him and his career before the game with Red Sox lefty David Price giving him his number, 52, from the historic Fenway left-field scoreboard.

“That was awesome. Especially here at Fenway. Red Sox. Price is like a little brother to me. To have him out there to give me that piece of Fenway was pretty cool,” said Sabathia, who added that memorabilia will be hanging in his house soon.

Sabathia also takes his place in the history of the game as just one of just 15 African American pitchers to record 20-win seasons. He proudly celebrated being one of the “Black Aces,” during Payers Weekend.

Winning a World Series ring in his first season with the Yankees in 2009, Sabathia would like to add a second ring to that Hall of Fame resume.

Giancarlo Stanton is “very close,” to ramping up his rehab from a sprained right knee and the Yankees believe he could be back with them in the Bronx as soon as next week.

“He’s ramping up pretty good and he’s getting close to where it’s full baserunning,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said before Monday’s game against the Red Sox at Fenway Park. “He’s doing his full defense already. We’re going to have him slide and kind of do everything, and hopefully he’ll be back in the mix with us sometime in the next week.”

That is a much more optimistic outlook than last week, when the clock seemed to be ticking on Stanton’s return. Stanton is obviously the Yankees’ preferred solution to the void created by Monday’s news that Mike Tauchman is now out six to eight weeks with a grade-2 left calf strain. Boone, however, said that the Yankees will not push him to return sooner than he feels comfortable.

“Not at all. Especially with our roster now and how we're built up, in the short term, we're very much covered between (Cameron) Maybin, between Tyler Wade being able to go out there. Breyvic Valera can go out there and play,” Boone said. No, it doesn't speed him up. When Giancarlo is ready, he'll be here. We believe that's getting close but we won't speed that up as a result of this.” The Yankees also have outfielder Clint Frazier on the expanded roster as an outfielder.

Stanton has played just nine games this season because of a litany of injuries. He has dealt with a strained biceps, strained shoulder and a left calf strain. He returned from that bunch of injuries to play just six games before suffering the knee injury.

He has eight years left on a 13-year, $325 million deal that he signed with the Marlins in 2015.

Domingo German is on board with the Yankees plan to bring him out of the bullpen Wednesday. The 27-year-old right-hander said he will do it in October if that is what the team needs as well.

“If that’s the plan moving forward, then I am going to be fine with it. We’re trying to win a championship,” German said through Yankees interpreter Marlon Abreu before Monday’s final game against the Red Sox at Fenway this season. “The preparation is the same. The game will be the same. I’ll be ready for that. I’ll just go out there and do my job.”

After getting shelled Friday night in just four innings work, German has thrown 140.2 innings this season. That’s well past the 123 innings he had pitched in 2017.

Yankees manager Aaron Boone will use Sabathia and the possible return of Luis Severino, now tentatively scheduled to make his major league debut next week in the Bronx, as a way to keep the heavy innings off German.