Pitcher CC Sabathia of the New York Yankees announced Monday — the day before the team’s first playoff game since 2012 — he would check into a rehabilitation center for treatment of alcohol addiction.

Share story

NEW YORK – Pitcher CC Sabathia of the New York Yankees announced Monday — the day before the team’s first playoff game since 2012 — he would check into a rehabilitation center for treatment of alcohol addiction.

“I love baseball and I love my teammates like brothers, and I am also fully aware that I am leaving at a time when we should all be coming together for one last push toward the World Series,” the 35-year-old said in a statement released by the team. “It hurts me deeply to do this now, but I owe it to myself and to my family to get myself right. I want to take control of my disease, and I want to be a better man, father and player.”

Sabathia added, “I am looking forward to being out on the field with my team next season playing the game that brings me so much happiness.”

The Yankees will take on the Houston Astros on Tuesday in New York in the American League wild-card game. The winner will advance to a division series against the Kansas City Royals.

Sabathia struggled this season, going 6-10 with a 4.73 earned-run average. But the 2007 Cy Young Award winner (with Cleveland) had recently switched to a new brace for his troublesome right knee and was pitching more effectively, to the point where the Yankees were looking at him to be a contributor in any extended playoff run.

General manager Brian Cashman, speaking to reporters at Yankee Stadium on Monday, said Sabathia contacted him Sunday afternoon.

Sabathia’s wife, Amber, was involved in the discussions, and Cashman, manager Joe Girardi and others encouraged the pitcher to seek treatment.

“I was not expecting this call and not expecting this press conference today,’’ Cashman said. “CC demonstrated a great deal of courage to try and tackle this problem. Time and place have no bearing. There is something here that needs to be taken care of and I applaud him for stepping up and doing everything necessary for himself as he moves forward. We’ll see him another day.”

Cashman, asked several times if he or the Yankees were aware of any personal problems Sabathia had encountered or of any incidents involving alcohol abuse, said he saw no warning signs.

“Clearly there has been a number of occurrences that led him to come to this type of decision that it is necessary, but those incidents are personal to him,” Cashman said. “I was not expecting that situation to come my way yesterday, but it did.”

There have been several incidents involving Sabathia’s behavior that attracted attention within the last 12 months.

In December, he became upset at Newark Liberty International Airport and got into a dispute with airline staff members. In June, he was ejected from a game for the first time since 2006 for arguing balls and strikes. In August, he was involved in a confrontation outside a nightclub in Toronto that led to a brawl, although he was not involved in any fighting.

Sabathia joined the Yankees on a seven-year, $160 million contract. In his first season in New York, 2009, he was 19-8 and helped lead the team to its 27th World Series title.

In October 2011, Sabathia agreed to a one-year extension of his contract, which was to be worth $25 million in 2016 with a vesting option in 2017 for another $25 million.

Sabathia, who is listed as 6 feet 7 inches and 285 pounds, is imposing atop the pitcher’s mound but is generally one of the most easygoing Yankees, both gregarious and accountable. While he has always been a fierce competitor on the field, he has found himself in disputes with opponents and umpires more frequently this season.

Cashman said, “I didn’t drill down into ‘How did this happen, when did it start, how long has it been going on, what have you been experiencing?’ I haven’t gone through any of that stuff. It was just, ‘Hey, we’re here to support you in any way, shape or form.’ ”

A number of Yankees said they would try to win Tuesday — and beyond — for Sabathia.

“We play for CC now,” Alex Rodriguez said. “CC’s gone to the mat for us many, many times. I know me, personally, and many people in here, we wouldn’t have a ring if it weren’t for CC, so now we go to the mat for him.”

Sabathia drank champagne along with teammates Thursday night, clutching a big bottle in the clubhouse after helping pitch the Yankees to their playoff-clinching victory over Boston. He expressed his gratitude to Girardi and described how they had developed a close bond.

Asked Monday if the nature of their relationship allowed him to look back and see warning signs, Girardi replied, “You know, I don’t know. Obviously when things happen, you try to evaluate exactly what’s going on with players, but I’m not with him 24 hours a day.”


• Longtime Yankees executive Billy Eppler, 40, was introduced as the 12th general manager of the Los Angeles Angels. The Angels’ GM before he left this summer, Jerry Dipoto, was hired as general manager of the Mariners last week.

“I think growing up in that New York environment and the microscope that comes with that, maybe that played in my favor,” Eppler said.