TAMPA, Fla. -- Yankees left-hander CC Sabathia said he "couldn't be happier with the way I felt physically" after his first Minor League rehabilitation start on Saturday.
Sabathia gave up two runs on three hits and a walk while striking out two batters over 2 1/3 innings for Class A Advanced Tampa. He threw 37 pitches, 24 of them for strikes, with his fastball sitting consistently at 87-89 mph and touching 90 mph.
"I felt really good. I didn't know what to expect. Obviously, I wanted to be healthy and not have any problems, and I got that accomplished," said Sabathia, sidelined since May 11 with fluid and inflammation in his right knee. "I'll be ready to go the next time out, just keep progressing and hopefully get back on the big league mound soon.
"It felt like it's been a long time since I've been out there. It feels good to be out there competing. Hopefully, I can get back to the big leagues pretty quick."
Sabathia said he didn't know when or where his next rehab start would take place, but he expects to make at least a few more before returning to the Yankees. While Sabathia was pleased with his performance overall, he said he still needs to work on his offspeed pitches, particularly his slider.
"But I guess that's why I'm here, just to work on stuff and make sure that my stuff is sharp before I get back," he said.
The most important thing for Sabathia, however, is that his injured right knee is no longer a problem. Sabathia said his knee started to feel back to normal a couple of weeks ago, and he has experienced no setbacks or felt any pain since then.
"I think obviously losing weight this offseason and last offseason has helped, because I think I would be in trouble if I was still 320-325 [pounds] running around out there with a bad knee," said Sabathia, who's currently weighing in around 285-290 pounds. "Just getting in shape before the season started has helped."
Sabathia started off strong Saturday night, striking out two batters in a 14-pitch first inning. He began the second with a four-pitch walk and gave up two runs on two hits, both of which bounced off a pair of Tampa Yankees' gloves. He allowed an infield single the third baseman couldn't reel in, then Dunedin Blue Jays second baseman Christian Lopes lined a double that glanced off center fielder Jake Cave's glove as he dived to make the catch.
Sabathia retired the first batter he faced in the third inning, gave up a hard-hit single through the left side, then exited the game after 37 pitches. He was slated to throw 40-45 pitches, according to Yankees manager Joe Girardi.
"With me, 45 pitches could be one inning, could be four innings, could be whatever," Sabathia said, smiling. "It just kind of is what it is. It feels good to get through it."
Sabathia was in a good mood from the start Saturday night, as he stood on the mound and applauded as a costumed Darth Vader threw out the first pitch. Sabathia broke into a big grin when asked about it afterward, noting that he dressed up as the Star Wars character for Halloween a couple of years ago.
"Awesome," Sabathia said. "His costume was pretty legit."