TAMPA, Fla. — Yankees left-hander CC Sabathia threw 20 pitches Tuesday during his first batting practice session since a heart procedure in December.
Sabathia, expected to miss his first two or three regular-season starts, is slated to throw a simulated game Saturday.
The 38-year-old, who is retiring after the season, had a stent inserted Dec. 11 after a blockage was found in an artery from his heart. He has had chronic right knee problems that required several operations.
“He’s really responded well to everything,” Yankee manager Aaron Boone said. “He’s doing well.”
Sabathia also is suspended for five games for hitting Tampa Bay’s catcher Jesus Sucre with a pitch on Sept. 27.
The 2007 AL Cy Young Award winner with Cleveland, Sabathia is 246-153 with a 3.70 ERA and 2,986 strikeouts in 18 major league seasons. He was 9-7 with a 3.65 ERA in 29 starts last season. This will be his 11th year with the Yankees.
Center fielder Aaron Hicks, who hurt his back during batting practice March 1, got a cortisone shot Monday. Boone said there is still enough time for Hicks to be ready for Opening Day.
“There’s a level of concern but I’m not too worried about it,” Boone said.
Acquired from Minnesota in November 2015, Hicks has been on the disabled list in all six of his big league seasons, nine trips in all for hamstring strains (three times), oblique strains (twice), shoulder, forearm and intercostal strains, and a concussion.
Hicks agreed to a $70 million, seven-year contract last month.
OF Jacoby Ellsbury (plantar fasciitis) is expected to arrive Sunday. He has been rehabbing in Arizona after not playing last season due to a variety of injuries. “He’s going to be way behind,” Boone said. … SS Didi Gregorius, out until the summer after Tommy John surgery, will start hitting off a tee in the next couple of weeks.
James Paxton threw a dominating five-inning, 78-pitch simulated game. The lefty recorded three strikeouts and got a grounder from Troy Tulowitzki. Paxton is expected to start the Yankees’ second regular-season game against Baltimore.
Yankees Opening Day starter Masahiro Tanaka is scheduled to start Wednesday night’s game against Philadelphia. Bryce Harper is expected to start in right field for the Phillies in his third spring training game since signing a $330 million, 13-year contract.