CC Sabathia wasn’t surprised his first pitch was well inside. The important thing was the New York Yankees’ ace felt good.
Sabathia threw off a mound on Saturday in Tampa for the first time since arthroscopic surgery Oct. 25 to remove a bone spur from his left elbow. The lefthander made 29 pitches during Saturday’s session, which was watched by several team officials, including pitching coach Larry Rothschild.
‘‘No problems,’’ Sabathia said. ‘‘Probably didn’t throw a strike, but that’s normal for my first bullpen. I got a little nervous when I first got up there. Hadn’t been up there. Didn’t know how I was going to feel, but I immediately felt good and I felt comfortable.’’
Sabathia was part of a scheduled bullpen group that included two of the pitching staff’s elder statesmen: 43-year-old Mariano Rivera and 40-year-old Andy Pettitte.
By the end of his session, Sabathia’s control improved and the sound of his fastball popping in the catcher’s mitt got louder.
Sabathia had two trips to the disabled list last year. A strained left groin kept him out from June 24 to July 17 and an inflamed left elbow sidelined him from Aug. 8-24. The 32-year-old was 15-6 with a 3.38 ERA, his fewest regular-season wins since 2006, and 2-1 in three playoff starts.
Rivera, who had surgery last June 12 to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee, went through his second bullpen session and then watched the others throw.
‘‘Right on schedule,’’ Rivera said. ‘‘Perfect.’’
Sabathia and Rivera are both expected to be ready for Opening Day.
‘‘I’m pretty confident they’re going to be OK,’’ manager Joe Girardi said. ‘‘But, I always say in the back of my head, I want to see them out there before I make that assumption. I feel good about it, just because I know where they are in their rehabs. I think they’re pretty far along.”
Manuel fed up
Charlie Manuel is tired of talking about his contract, which expires at the end of the season.
‘‘This is the last time I’ll answer about my deal, OK?’’ Manuel said. ‘‘I’m very satisfied with the way it is.’’
Ryne Sandberg, the Phillies’ Triple A manager for the last two seasons, earned a promotion to major league third base coach and appears to be the manager in waiting.
Manuel hopes to manage beyond this year and said he’s tired of having to explain why he should be worthy of another deal.
‘‘I shouldn’t have to explain it to anybody, the team or President Obama or anybody. Seriously,’’ Manuel said. ‘‘That’s kind of how I look at it. I’m not worried about my contract. I’ve been in baseball 51 years, and right now I definitely plan on staying in baseball and I plan on managing.’’
Kershaw the choice
Clayton Kershaw was selected as the Dodgers’ Opening Day starter and will become the team’s first pitcher to start three straight openers since Derek Lowe from 2005-07. Kershaw will take the mound on April 1 against the World Series champion Giants at Dodger Stadium. ‘‘You like guys who are low maintenance,’’ Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. ‘‘He’s been relatively healthy. He’s pretty consistent in his outings. You don’t get big fluctuations. You kind of know what to count on, what to expect.’’ Kershaw will make $11.5 million this year. He is eligible for free agency after the 2014 season . . . Pitchers Homer Bailey of the Reds and Clayton Richard of the Padres agreed to one-year contracts, making it all but certain there will be no salary arbitration hearings this year for the first time since the process began in 1974. Reliever Darren O’Day and the Orioles have an agreement on a $5.8 million, two-year contract that is pending a physical. As long as that deal is completed, arbitration season is over . . . Reading from a prepared statement, Padres catcher Yasmani Grandal apologized for a second time following his 50-game suspension for a positive test for testosterone.