Indians' Sabathia likely out 3-5 weeks with ab strain

Updated: April 4, 2006, 4:34 PM ET
Associated Press

CHICAGO -- Cleveland Indians ace lefty C.C. Sabathia was put on the 15-day disabled list Tuesday and is expected to be out three to five weeks with a strained right oblique muscle.

C.C. Sabathia
Sabathia

The 6-foot-7, 290-pound Sabathia was hurt in Sunday night's season opener against the Chicago White Sox and had to leave in the third inning after throwing just 37 pitches. His injury is similar to one he had a year ago, when he began the season on the DL after hurting the muscle in spring training. He missed six weeks but still finished 15-10.

"It's not as bad as it was last year," Sabathia said before Tuesday's game against the White Sox. "It feels good today. I feel zero pain. Last year it hurt for about a week or so. I woke up yesterday and it felt a little sore. Today I feel no pain."

But Sabathia's absence will likely hurt the Indians, who hoped to get off to a quick start this season in hopes of dethroning the White Sox in the AL Central.

"It's clearly disappointing and it's also part of the game," Indians general manager Mark Shapiro said. "Part of the ability to be a championship team is how you deal with setbacks during a 162-game season. ... It's part of the deal."

Indians trainer Lonnie Soloff said Sabathia's weight is not a problem, and Shapiro noted that Sabathia had made at least 30 starts for five straight seasons. It is just Sabathia's second trip to the DL in a major league career that began in 2001.

"The fact that it has happened back-to-back years is a cause for some concern at a low-level," Soloff said. "But once again, he's a rotational athlete and he generates some pretty intense torque around his front side. His rotational velocities are probably the highest in the game, just from his height and his size.

"I would say that his size plays into that, not his weight. We are comfortable where he is from a weight standpoint."

Sabathia said he's been steadfast with his conditioning. He pulled out of pitching for the U.S. team in the World Baseball Classic so he would be ready for the season, another sign of his resolve to be the Indians' No. 1 starter.

"I'm working hard and doing everything I can to stay on top of that. I have been for the past two years," he said.

"Conditioning has always been an important part of C.C.'s game, mainly more than most because he's such a big guy," manager Eric Wedge said. "He's been consistent with it and as strong as he's ever been. ... As electric as it was other night, he probably tried to reach back and do a little more and tweaked it."

Soloff said that Sabathia's arm should be ready to respond from the layoff sooner than a year ago because he pitched in spring training. In 2005 he was hurt warming up prior to his first spring start on March 6 and wasn't activated until April 16.

The Indians called up 6-foot-6 reliever Jason Davis to take Sabathia's roster spot. Cleveland doesn't need a fifth starter until April 15 because of off days so will get by with four starters until then and then find a spot starter. The rest of the rotation is Jake Westbrook, Cliff Lee, Jason Johnson and Paul Byrd.

Sabathia felt the muscle grab when he delivered a pitch to Tadahito Iguchi in the third inning Sunday. He tried some warmup pitches but had to leave the game after just 2 1/3 innings.

"I was watching the game in the clubhouse, just watching video and I was throwing the ball harder than I thought I was," he said. "I was going up there trying to throw nice and easy, go 90, 91 and it was more like 93, 94. It was just being pumped up, I guess, because of the circumstances in the game."

Sabathia was 9-1 in his final 11 starts a year ago, almost pitching the Indians into the playoffs with a great stretch run before they lost six of their last seven games. Now Cleveland will have to make do without him, at least for a while.


Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press