Sabathia set to make spring debut on Friday

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- CC Sabathia threw 50 pitches in a four-inning simulated game Sunday morning at George M. Steinbrenner Field in Tampa, Fla., and the next time he steps on that mound will be Friday, his Grapefruit League debut.

Sabathia, who had surgery to remove a bone spur in his left elbow last October, threw 50 pitches to Corban Joseph and Zoilo Almonte, and he figures to throw about 65 on Friday, when the Yankees host the Marlins.

"Felt good today, no problems. I felt strong. I'm ready to go," Sabathia said. "I'm working pretty hard and trying to throw all my pitches and make it as game-like as possible. I'm getting good work out of it."

The big left-hander hasn't had to see a doctor since he reported to Spring Training, and his throwing elbow hasn't bothered him at all during his last two throwing sessions. Sabathia said he threw a little bit harder Sunday than he had before this spring.

"Hopefully, I can just keep getting stronger, velocity gets better every time and I'll have something to work with instead of 88 [mph] this year," Sabathia said.

The Yankees will need more from Sabathia this year. After losing a few big bats to free agency, Mark Teixeira and Curtis Granderson for about a month because of injuries and Alex Rodriguez for at least half the season, the Bombers will be more dependent upon their pitching than any time in recent memory.

So it's no surprise much of that falls on Sabathia, the Yankees' ace and workhorse, in addition to veterans Andy Pettitte and Hiroki Kuroda.

"I feel like we needed to keep the runs down and pitch well anyway, so this is no added pressure," Sabathia said. "I think we as a staff put a lot of pressure on ourselves to pitch well because we know the team's only going to go as far as the pitching takes it.

"So we put a lot of pressure on ourselves. With the injuries, it's just one of those things where we're going to have to go out and pitch a little better."

Adam Berry is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.