Talent will virtually always trump character, but the ideal player is of value both on and off the field. In the past two off-seasons, we've seen the Yankees acquire CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, Mark Teixeira, Nick Swisher, and Curtis Granderson. All of them are All-Star caliber players, and by all accounts, they are also model teammates and assets in the community.
Born and bred in nearby Vallejo, CC took advantage of the Yankees' trip to Oakland last August to visit his old elementary school, Lorma Vista. There CC and his wife Amber handed out backpacks filled with school supplies to the students, one of several initiatives undertaken by CC's PitCCh In Foundation.
CC Sabathia's philanthropic side has been on display again this week. On Monday's off day, Sabathia traveled to Vallejo. There, he threw out the ceremonial first pitch for the first night game at North Vallejo Little League's Thurmon Field. The field was completely rebuilt this past winter, using funds donated by the PitCCh In Foundation.
Last night, the Vallejo High School baseball team were CC's guests at the Colisseum, spending time on the field before the game and getting to meet CC and other Yankees. Tonight, CC will have a host of friends and family in the stands as he takes the hill against the A's.
Coming off a rain-shortened six inning complete game against the Rangers Friday night, CC is looking for his third straight outstanding start. After a mediocre Opening Night outing in Boston, Sabathia no-hit the Rays for seven in two thirds in his second start, and allowed just three baserunners and single run while striking out nine Rangers Friday. He's issued just four walks on the season, has yet to allow a longball, and leads the AL with a 0.737 WHIP.
Sabathia faced Oakland three times last year, resulting in two wins and a no decision. Over 21.2 IP he posted a 1.15 WHIP and a 4.57 ERA, with most of the damage coming in his 6 inning, 6 ER start against them in April. After some rough goings in his first eight starts in Oakland, Sabathia shined in his only appearance there as a Yankee, allowing just two runs and six base runners while striking out seven in eight innings of work. The current A's roster has not faired well against him.
Opposing CC will be a fellow lefty, Dallas Braden. Now in his fourth Big League season, the Texas Tech product has built on his promising 2009 and is off to a strong start in 2010, with a 2.70 ERA and a 0.75 WHIP through his first 20 innings of work. Braden has faced the Yankees four times in his career, only one of them starts. They have touched him up for eight runs through nine and a third, with seven of those runs coming in his start at the Stadium last July. The Yankee roster has had limited exposure to Braden, but in that small sample they have done quite well.
The Yankees have taken the season's first five series for the first time since 1926. This afternoon they go for their second straight sweep, and beyond the fact that I always want the Yankees to win, I hope they get it. CC Sabathia is a good dude, and he's done some good things during his homecoming this week. Just like fellow Bay Area guys Tea Leaf Green, CC was taught to be proud of where he came from. He showed that pride this week; here's hoping karma rewards him with another strong performance.
I was taught to be proud of where I come from
And I'm so sad that I'm the only one.
Like a cold preacher boy talking only to himself
How did he think that he got to promised lands?
Gone, gone, gone,
Not gone for long,
If you're taught to be proud of where you come from.
Joe Girardi shakes things up a bit today. Mark Teixeira gets a half day off as the DH; Nick Johnson will pick up some leather for the first time this year. With a lefty on the mound Curtis Granderson rides the pine for the first time this year. Brett Gardner gets his first start in center field this season, with Marcus Thames playing in left. It'll be interesting to see how he fares in the spacious pastures there. For the third straight start, Frankie Cervelli will be calling the pitches for CC.
A late scratch from last night's lineup, Travis Buck has been placed on the 15 day DL. Former Yankee farmhand Matt Carson has been called up to take Buck's roster spot. Carson gets the start in left and will bat eighth.
Rajai Davis CF
Daric Barton 1B
Ryan Sweeney RF
Kurt Suzuki C
Jake Fox DH
Kevin Kouzmanoff 3B
Adam Rosales 2B
Matt Carson LF
Cliff Pennington SS