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October 27, 2009

C.C. Sabathia


Q. CC, rain in the forecast, possibly into the game tomorrow. How does that affect you and what adjustments do you have to make?
CC SABATHIA: We've had a lot of rain games here, you know, all year. I come to the park, go about my business the same way, just get ready and see what happens.

Q. Just what does it mean to be a Game 1 starter in a World Series with all the focus? Obviously this is the pinnacle, this is what you want to do.
CC SABATHIA: That's what you come here for, to pitch and play in these big games. It definitely helps that we have a lot of guys in the clubhouse that have been there before, you know, talking to Andy and Jeter and these guys.
You know, I'll go out and try to do the same things I've been doing all year, keep throwing up some zeros and letting the team score runs.

Q. What's your relationship like with Cliff Lee? Can you describe that?
CC SABATHIA: We're close. You know, we always have been. We came up together. Once he got traded over, he came to the Big Leagues, and we've kind of been close ever since. You know, it's going to be a lot of fun facing him tomorrow.
We did it Opening Day, opened up The Stadium, and that was pretty cool. It's just weird because a couple years ago we were talking about maybe pitching in a World Series together, now we're in different clubhouses. It's just a little weird, but it'll be fun.

Q. When you broke into the Big Leagues, Charlie was your manager. What was he like then and what was your relationship with him?
CC SABATHIA: Charlie was great. I owe him everything because at the time when I came up, I was 20 years old, and the front office at the Indians didn't want to bring a 20-year-old up to the Big Leagues, and Charlie told me at the beginning of Spring Training if I pitched well enough, he was going to take me. He kept his word. He was great to me, and we have a great relationship.
He always let me swing 3-0, too, and I got a chance to hit.

Q. You've had an opportunity to face the Phillies, what do you think of that lineup?
CC SABATHIA: Lineup is great. It's similar to ours. They have a great balance of power and speed, and with Victorino at the top and you get into Utley and Howard and Werth. Top to bottom pretty much as tough as an American League lineup. So they're going to be tough tomorrow.

Q. You mentioned talking to Pettitte and Jeter. What specifically did they tell you about what to expect in the World Series?
CC SABATHIA: That it's going to be just like any other playoff game. I mean, we've played some wild, crazy games this year. The Boston games and opening up against the Twins, I mean, it's all the same. Opening Day here, it's all the same. Just go out and take the same approach and be calm and be ready to go.

Q. What's the responsibility of being the No. 1 starter during the regular season, and do you think it's any different being the No. 1 guy in the post-season?
CC SABATHIA: I don't think it's any different. I think the No. 1 starter is a guy that goes out there and gives his team a chance to win every time out. He has the respect in the clubhouse that guys feel pretty good when you go out there. That's all I try to do.

Q. How do you go after Ryan Howard, especially when he's hot? And do you particularly relish a confrontation like that?
CC SABATHIA: He's a great hitter, so I'll just try to pound the strike zone. When he's hot, there's nothing you can do. You just go out, try to pound the strike zone and see what happens. Hit both sides of the plate, and see what happens.

Q. When you think back to all your hard work as a kid, as a young adult, to the Major Leagues to this point, throwing the first pitch of a World Series game, the first one in this stadium, what does that mean to you, not the ballplayer but the person?
CC SABATHIA: It means a lot. I'll probably look back on it one day and be more excited. Right now I'm in the midst of it, so I'm just focused on trying to win the game and help this team. But you know, it definitely means a lot.
My father played a big role in my life, and he told me that all this will come true one day, and it has. Just feels good to be in this spot.

Q. Do you remember the first time that you met Cliff, and the first time that you saw him throw and what your impressions were?
CC SABATHIA: I remember, you know, the first time I met him, I think we were in Minnesota, maybe he had just got called up in September, and he went out and dealt. He was the Cliff that he is now. He went out and pounded both sides of the plate, attacking, real aggressive in the strike zone, and he's the same guy. His change-up is very underrated. I think a lot of people don't know he has a great change-up. He goes right after you. He's going to be ready tomorrow.

Q. Mentioning you and Cliff being close, did you give him any advice when he was traded mid-season how to handle a trade, being that you were in the same situation a year prior? Had there been any communication between you two leading up to this World Series, text messages or anything? And lastly, have you heard from anybody in Cleveland, friends you may have there, good, bad or indifferent, and what are they saying?
CC SABATHIA: You know, as far as him getting traded, I mean, he can handle that. I just told him to swing hard when he's hitting. I feel comfortable with him. He's confident enough and knows how to go about his business in getting traded.
As far as we've been texting back and forth pretty much all year, so we keep in contact a lot. Back in Cleveland, I got a couple of text messages saying it's going to be weird watching us pitch against each other in the World Series, us being teammates two years ago.

Q. From friends?
CC SABATHIA: Friends and people in the organization.

Q. You were saying last time that after you guys faced each other at the opener of The Stadium, you went and had dinner and whatnot. Where did you guys go, and what was that conversation like? What do two guys like that say to one another after going against each other?
CC SABATHIA: We never talk about baseball. It's weird. That's just something that doesn't come up. We'll say "good job" and things like that, but it's just not sitting down talking about pitches and things like that. It's nothing like that. He just came over to the house. My wife cooked, and he came over and hung out. That's just how we are. We've always been pretty close, pretty cool. The conversations are really never about baseball, though.

Q. What are they about?
CC SABATHIA: Just different stuff, his family, my family. I got to know his family pretty well, and he got to know mine. Just things like that. Just two regular guys talking about whatever.

Q. This is a little goofy question: It's always been considered a great honor to wear the Yankee pinstripes and there's been a lot of speculation that since you are such a broad-shouldered, broad-chested man that you have more pinstripes on your uniform than any Yankee in history. I'm wondering have you ever considered that? And have you ever counted the pinstripes and where you think you may rate with all the other Yankee greats?
CC SABATHIA: I don't know, I never counted them. I do know I probably have the biggest uniform in the history in baseball, though. I'm proud of that.

Q. Let me follow up that by saying given the history of Yankees, and I'm thinking of Elston Howard who was the first black player who played for the Yankees, and someone just reminded me of Al Downing, have you had a chance to think about all of that, or not?
CC SABATHIA: Me being African-American playing for the Yankees?

Q. Absolutely, and helping take the team to the World Series, given the history of the team and just when you think of, like I said, Elston Howard -- just to begin with Elston Howard alone.
CC SABATHIA: Yeah, it's pretty cool. I hadn't really thought about it. That's not something that you think about every day. But like I said, because I'm in it right now and I'm in the midst of this whole thing, maybe I'll think about it years down the line. But right now I'm just a regular guy, baseball player going out, and I'm just fortunate to be in this organization and be in this spot.

Q. What's your reaction to Rollins' words?
CC SABATHIA: What did he say?

Q. Last night on Leno he said they'll win in five or six.
CC SABATHIA: Jimmy is a confident guy, man. He's always been. They're the champs, so we have to go take it from them. What can I say? They won it last year, and it's up to us to go prove that we're better than them.

Q. You guys have been watching what Alex is doing all post-season. He was talking earlier about how he thinks back to Spring Training and you guys all being there on the side during his press conference. How important do you think it was for all you to show him this spring that you were all behind him no matter what was going on there?
CC SABATHIA: I think that was pretty big. I think he was -- I can't say excited because of the press conference, but I think he was happy that we were there and supporting him. I tell people all the time, this is a real close team. We all joke around. I mean, you guys see us, we all joke around, we have fun, and it's just -- it was good for me to be there, me being new, and showing him that we do have his back, and we're going to support him.

Q. You've watched what your lineup has been able to do all year. Can you kind of compare the potential of your lineup and what you think of the Phillies' lineup and the potential of what they can do?
CC SABATHIA: I think they're very similar lineups. These guys in our clubhouse swing the bat. I've been saying that all year. You don't have to go out and do too much, go out and pitch well, and these guys are going to score you runs. I'm pretty sure that's the same way it's been in Philly. Jimmy has got power, Victorino has got pop, and they both run the bases well. They're a tough lineup to deal with, just basically an American League lineup. It's just going to be a fun series.

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