NEW YORK -- The Yankees don't know precisely when CC Sabathia will be back, but they expect him to take longer than the minimum stay on the disabled list. Sabathia will be eligible to return on May 26, but manager Joe Girardi said Saturday that the left-hander may need some more time.
Girardi said that Sabathia, dealing with a balky right knee, will be on crutches until early next week and will need some time to ease back into his schedule. The hulking left-hander is flying back to New York on Saturday and is expected to be at the stadium on Sunday, and Girardi isn't quite sure what to expect.
Girardi, in fact, said that he "would be kind of shocked," if Sabathia was ready by May 26.
"There's not a lot of history on this, but because they want the procedure to be as successful as possible, he's on crutches," Girardi said. "It's not because the knee is sore. They just don't want any weight on it. My guess is we'll evaluate him Monday or Tuesday ... and then we'll go from there."
Sabathia saw noted orthopedist Dr. James Andrews earlier in the week and was diagnosed with degenerative changes in his right knee that required an uncommon treatment. Sabathia underwent a cortisone and stem-cell injection Thursday, and now he'll need to rest before rushing back.
Girardi joked on Saturday that Sabathia won't be throwing any bullpen sessions by early next week, but the Yankees will basically be making up his rehabilitation schedule as they go. The team wants to proceed as cautiously as possible in order to ensure that Sabathia doesn't have a setback.
"It's difficult for everyone else to figure out, the doctors and our training staff," said Girardi. "As a manager, you have to worry day to day. You can't think, 'Well, you get him in two weeks or you get him in three weeks.' It doesn't do a lot of good for me to spend a lot of time thinking about that."
Besides, Sabathia is hardly Girardi's only worry. The Yankees lost Ivan Nova to a season-ending elbow injury and are waiting for Michael Pineda to recover from an injured muscle in his pitching shoulder, and Girardi knows that his pitching staff is only as strong as the replacements for his injured arms.
"The other guys have to step up in his absence," said Girardi. "Hopefully, we'll get Michael Pineda back fairly soon. And hopefully CC's not out too long, but none of us really know."
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.