Sabathia arrives in Milwaukee
Newly acquired starter joins Brewers on Monday night
MILWAUKEE -- The reigning American League Cy Young Award winner has a new team and a new way to spell his name, but he's hoping to be the same old pitcher.Left-hander CC Sabathia -- no punctuation between the Cs, a Sabathia rep informed the Brewers -- reported for duty at Miller Park on Monday at about 4:30 p.m. CT, a little more than five hours after the team announced its most significant midseason addition in more than a quarter century.
We're not talking about size, though the 6-foot-7, 290-pound Sabathia certainly fits the definition of "significant." The Brewers traded top prospect Matt LaPorta and three other young players for Sabathia because they think he significantly upgrades an already solid team with a chance to win a spot in the postseason for the first time in 26 years."I guess it says that they have a great team now," Sabathia said. "Hopefully, I can come in and fit in and be another addition to a great team and get us to a championship." At least he can move past the trade rumors. The Indians' bid to repeat as American League Central champions has been derailed this season partly by injuries, and since Sabathia is a free agent at year's end, his name almost always led the list of available pitchers. Milwaukee emerged as a favorite last week. A deal was struck Sunday night, when Milwaukee agreed to send LaPorta along with pitchers Zach Jackson, Rob Bryson and a player to be named to Cleveland. Sabathia tried to block out the distractions. He didn't always succeed. "I tried to concentrate on my team, tried to stay focused on that," Sabathia said. "It hadn't been difficult ... [until] this weekend in Minnesota, just hearing things from both sides. I was anxious to get it over with." Sabathia, a 19-game winner last season, is 6-8 with a 3.83 ERA and has been improving as the year goes on. All six of his wins have come since April 22, and Sabathia's 2.16 ERA since then is third-best in the Majors. He has worked at least seven innings in 10 of his past 11 starts. In his first telephone conversation with Sabathia, Brewers general manager Doug Melvin offered two options: Take his usual turn in the rotation on Tuesday night, or take a few days to digest the trade and join the rotation on Thursday. Sabathia chose to report right away.
"I was excited," he said. "I wanted to be here to meet my new teammates and get settled. And this way, I get two starts in before the All-Star break."His new surroundings were not altogether unfamiliar. Sabathia and Brewers reliever David Riske advanced through Cleveland's Minor League system together and remain close friends, and third baseman Russell Branyan is another old Indians teammate. Sabathia and Ben Sheets were together briefly in 2000 at an Olympic qualifying camp, and Sabathia counts among his friends Brewers first baseman Prince Fielder and infielder Bill Hall. He's also familiar with Miller Park. Sabathia has made a pair of starts there, including a game last April 10 against the Angels as part of a three-game series that was moved from Cleveland to Milwaukee because of bad weather. "I remember the slow motion wave," Sabathia said, referring to a tradition that began at University of Wisconsin football games and somehow migrated to Miller Park. "I know this is a great city to play in. The fans are awesome and I'm looking forward to getting out there." He will not have to wait long. Sabathia is scheduled to start Tuesday night against the Rockies, then again on Sunday against the Reds in the finale of the first half. Brewers manager Ned Yost arrived early Monday to rewrite his pitching plans for the next month. "I had a blast," Yost said. "I was writing in CC, then writing in [Ben] Sheets. Then coming to the Cubs, and writing in CC and writing in Sheets. It was fun." Yost is apparently not the only one anticipating Sabathia's debut. Fans at Monday's game gave Sabathia a long standing ovation in the middle of the third inning when his image was shown on the big screen, and ticket sales for Tuesday's game spiked after Monday's formal announcement. The Brewers are expecting a near-sellout for Sabathia's debut. Now, about the spelling in those programs... Sabathia, whose full name is Carsten Charles Sabathia, has always been known as "C.C." and was listed as such in every publication from the American League Red Book to MLB.com's online database. But one of Sabathia's reps called a club official late Monday morning and said to drop the punctuation. Sabathia's own take? "I have no preference at all," he said. "I'm fine either way." How does he spell it? "If I have to spell my name, actually I use Carsten," he said. "Very rarely do I use CC. So I guess I don't use periods, either."
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.