Sabathia wins Warren Spahn award, says he welcomes testing
GUTHRIE, Okla. -- C.C. Sabathia would welcome expanded drug testing in baseball.
"Bring it on," the Cleveland Indians ace said. "They can test me whenever. I have no problem with that."
The AL Cy Young Award winner was in Oklahoma on Wednesday to receive the 2007 Warren Spahn Award, presented annually to baseball's best left-handed pitcher by the Oklahoma Sports Museum.
He said he has nothing to hide and wouldn't object to any changes in Major League Baseball's testing program, including offseason drug tests, blood testing for human growth hormone or freezing urine or blood samples for testing in the future.
In last month's Mitchell report on doping in baseball, former Senate majority leader George Mitchell recommended the sport adopt a more independent administrator and more frequent testing.
"People have this big perception about how steroids are running crazy through the clubhouse, but it's nothing like that," Sabathia said. "You don't hear or know anything" about who might be using them.
The 6-foot-7, 290-pound left-hander said he hasn't paid close attention to the fallout from the Mitchell Report.
"I really have no interest," the Bay Area native told The Associated Press. "What I do in the wintertime is watch the [Oakland] Raiders and watch the [Golden State] Warriors and play with my kids."
Sabathia went 19-9 last season for the Indians, who reached the AL championship series before losing to the Boston Red Sox in seven games.
He posted career bests in wins, ERA (3.21) and strikeouts (209) and led the major leagues in innings pitched with 241, becoming the first Indians pitcher to do so since Bob Feller in 1947. Sabathia also earned his 100th career win.
He joined Hall of Famer Gaylord Perry (1972) as the only Cleveland pitchers to win the Cy Young Award.
Past winners of the Spahn Award, named for the late Oklahoma resident whose 363 wins are the most of any lefty in big league history -- include Randy Johnson (1999-2002), Andy Pettitte (2003), Johan Santana (2004, 2006) and Dontrelle Willis (2005).
Sabathia said he considers Santana the best southpaw in baseball. The New York Mets reached a tentative agreement Tuesday to acquire Santana from Minnesota for four prospects and are trying to negotiate a contract extension with the two-time Cy Young Award winner.
"I think I'm not far behind, but I don't think you'll ever get me to say that I'm the best lefty in baseball," Sabathia said.
Even though he picked up an award for lefties, Sabathia signed autographs Wednesday with his right hand. He said he does everything but pitch with his right hand, and credits his father for turning him into a left-handed hurler.
"I went and played T-ball my first year when I was 4 and I wasn't very good," he said. "My dad just worked with me, worked with me, worked with me. One day ... I just remember him coming home and saying, 'Here, just try this.' I remember going out in the yard, and he was amazed, the action that I had on my arm, so I just stuck with it."
Sabathia said he's excited about the arrival of spring training -- Cleveland's pitchers and catchers are scheduled to report to Winter Haven, Fla., on Feb. 14 -- and hopes that he can reach an agreement with the Indians on a contract extension. He will be eligible for free agency following the 2008 season.
Cleveland general manager Mark Shapiro has said he would prefer having talks with Sabathia wrapped up by the start of camp, but the Indians would be willing to extend negotiations with Sabathia as long as necessary.
Sabathia said the timetable for negotiations isn't so important to him, but he'd like to stay in Cleveland.
"I think it's progressing. At this point, I really have nothing to do with it," he said of the negotiations. "I'm letting my agent and the Indians front office take care of that. I'm sure at some point I will be involved, but right now, I'm going to let them try to hammer out a deal.
"Hopefully, we can get something done. I've been with that organization since I was 17 years old and I really don't know anything else."
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press
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