Rehabbing Sabathia to open season serving suspension

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Rehabbing Yankees left-hander CC Sabathia will open the regular season on the 25-man roster so he can serve a five-game suspension stemming from last season before being placed on the injured list.

Sabathia, retiring after the season, is expected to miss the first two or three turns through the rotation as he recovers from an offseason that included knee surgery and the insertion of a stent after a blockage was found in an artery from his heart.

The Yankees will be short-handed for three games with Baltimore and a pair against Detroit while Sabathia serves the suspension for hitting Tampa Bay’s Jesus Sucre with a pitch in his last regular season start of 2018.

Jonathan Loaisiga was optioned to Triple-A Scranton/Wilke-Barre on Saturday but will be recalled for the sixth game on April 3 against the Tigers. Loaisiga is expected to start the game or enter after a reliever serves as an opener.

“We’re getting him ready to start,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “Whether we decide to do something with the opener, we’ll see where we are at that point in the season.”

Luis Cessa and Domingo German, who both competed for open rotation spots with Loaisiga, will be on the opening day roster.

Boone said German will likely be the fourth starter, while Cessa will be a long reliever.

“That’s also something that’s fluid,” Boone said. “They’re all built up. That will be kind of week-by-week, rotation-by-rotation kind of thing.”

Gio Gonzalez, a two-time All-Star signed to a minor league contract this week for rotation depth, allowed five runs and four hits over two innings in a 7-3 loss Saturday to the Toronto Blue Jays.

“Maybe a tick off,” Gonzalez said. “A little more seasoning and I think I’ll be right where I want to be.”

Yankees ace Luis Severino is sidelined by right shoulder inflammation and will not be available until May at the earliest.

Opening day starter Masahiro Tanaka heads a rotation that includes James Paxton and J.A. Happ.

Tanaka gave up a hit and struck out three in two scoreless innings Saturday during his final tuneup before facing the Orioles on Thursday.

It will be his fourth opening day assignment, the most by a Japanese-born pitcher in major league history.

“I’m ready,” Tanaka said.


1B Greg Bird (right elbow swelling) was in the original lineup Saturday but Boone decided not to play him until Sunday. Bird was hit by a pitch Wednesday, and Boone wanted to give him one more day to bring down inflammation. … Severino played catch for the third time in four days and increased his throwing distance from 60 to 90 feet.