Yanks’ Sabathia makes first regular-season relief appearance

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              New York Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia delivers to the Tampa Bay Rays during the fourth inning of a baseball game Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2019, in St. Petersburg, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — CC Sabathia impressed his manager and teammates in his first regular-season relief appearance.

The 39-year-old left-hander, who is retiring at the end of the season, worked a perfect fourth inning in the New York Yankees’ 2-1, 12-inning loss Tuesday night to the Tampa Bay Rays.

Sabathia had made 560 regular season starts but is being moved to the bullpen along with J.A. Happ ahead of the postseason.

“I thought he threw a lot of good cutters to their righties,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “Good that he was able to walk in from the bullpen, which is unique for him. And then talking to him, once he was out there, he was normal.”

Sabathia will come out of the bullpen again in a game this weekend at Texas for the AL East champions.

“So good first step,” Boone said. “Hopefully he bounces back well from it tomorrow and then we’ll try it again in Arlington.”

Sabathia struck out Travis d’Arnaud, induced a groundout from Choi and retired Matt Duffy on a called third strike.

“I think it was impressive,” Yankees reliever Chad Green said. “For that to be the first time he’s gone in for one inning and to lock in like that, it was fun to watch.”

Sabathia did not talk with reporters after the game.

His only prior big league relief appearance was in Game 5 of the 2011 AL Division Series against Detroit, when he entered to start the fifth inning with New York trailing 2-0. Sabathia allowed one run, two hits and two walks with four strikeouts over 1 1/3 innings in the Yankees’ 3-2 loss.

Sabathia received a standing ovation as he walked toward the dugout after the inning from a large group of Yankees’ fans among the announced crowd of 16,699. Duffy’s strikeout was Sabathia’s 1,700 with the Yankees.

“It doesn’t really change that much,” New York catcher Austin Romine said. “The game is slow for him. He showed what he can do.”

With Sabathia’s outing, the active leader for the most regular-season starts without pitching out of the bullpen is Houston’s Justin Verlander with 452.