CC Sabathia’s major league career is over. The 39-year-old left-hander was dropped from the Yankees’ AL Championship Series roster on Friday, a day after he dislocated a joint in his pitching shoulder during the eighth inning of New York’s Game 4 loss to Houston.
Sabathia was replaced by right-hander Ben Heller. New York trailed 3-1 in the best-of-seven series, and even if the Yankees and advanced Sabathia would not be eligible to return to the active roster.
A six-time All-Star and the 2007 AL Cy Young Award winner with Cleveland, Sabathia finished with a 251-161 regular-season record with 3,093 strikeouts. He announced before the season that this was going to be his last year, and he made four trips to the injured list caused by his balky right knee.
His body gave out on his 20th pitch to the Astros. He walked off the mound toward second, spoke with head athletic trainer Steve Donahue and tried a warmup toss, hoping somehow to push through, but he had to leave.
Even Houston’s Gerrit Cole and George Springer joined in the applause as fans gave Sabathia limped off a standing ovation. When he reached the dugout, his face contorted, Sabathia took four steps down toward the clubhouse, then sat near the bottom, his back to the field, as Donahue tried to console him.
“Every single time he went out there, you had to rip the ball or his jersey off to get him off that mound,” Yankees slugger Aaron Judge said. “He got everything out of that arm. That’s a warrior right there.”
Boone said Sabathia could be replaced on the roster Friday, making him ineligible even should the Yankees come back and advance.
“It stinks,” reliever Zack Britton said. “It’s heartbreaking to watch him leave the field like that. I know how much pain he was in.”