CLEVELAND -- As a professional, CC Sabathia grew up in the Cleveland Indians organization, and now, nearly 10 years after leaving the franchise in a trade with the Milwaukee Brewers, he has the chance to face off against his first MLB team in the postseason.
Sabathia will take the mound for the New York Yankees against the Indians in Game 2 of the 2017 American League Division Series at Progressive Field this afternoon, and is very much looking forward to pitching in the postseason once again.
“I think it’s going to be a lot of fun,” Sabathia said. “Obviously, it’s exciting to come back to Cleveland. I kind of grew up here.
“To be able to pitch in the playoff game here is going to be a lot of fun, even if it’s on the other side. We’re excited, and I think it will be fun.”
A first-round pick of the Indians in the 1998 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft, Sabathia spent parts of eight seasons in Cleveland before getting traded to the Brewers in 2008, a deal that netted the Tribe outfielder Michael Brantley as the player to be named in exchange for the then-reigning AL Cy Young Award winner.
“I usually get a good reception here,” Sabathia said. “I got traded from here, so it wasn’t like I left. I still know everybody that works down under here, and a lot of people that still work in the organization. I’ve been treated pretty well here, as a visitor, and even better when I played here. I loved it here.”
After a half-season with the Brewers, Sabathia signed a free-agent contract with the Yankees, has spent the past nine years in The Bronx, and considers New York home.
“I think I’m a Yankee now,” said Sabathia. “This is where I spent most of my career now. I’ve been nine years here. I won a championship here. I got to play with some great players, so I think people, I guess, remember me as a Yankee.”
After a third straight losing season in 2016, Sabathia went 14-5 with a 3.69 ERA in 27 starts in 2017 for a Yankees team that won the American League Wild Card Game against the Minnesota Twins at Yankee Stadium Tuesday night to earn their spot in the ALDS.
Now, Sabathia will look to even the series against the Indians, who took a 1-0 lead in the best-of-five set with a 4-0 victory Thursday night.
Having pitched in Cleveland during the 2007 MLB Playoffs, Sabathia expects the crowd at Progressive Field to be rocking, and with the fans at a fever pitch, he is very much looking forward to taking the mound in a meaningful October game in Cleveland.
“I really do enjoy it,” Sabathia said of pitching in games away from Yankee Stadium. “I’ve always enjoyed pitching on the road. I don’t know. It’s a weird thing. It doesn’t bother me, the crowd or anything like that. Obviously, being really familiar with the park here, I feel like I can be able to go out and hopefully, pitch a good game for us.”