Pain and injury aside, a fitting exit for popular Yankee Sabathia

New York Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia is examined by trainer Steve Donohue after suffering a shoulder injury during Game 4 on Thursday night against Houston. (USA TODAY SPORTS)

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NEW YORK — The pain in his shoulder was excruciating enough, but what really struck CC Sabathia the hardest in his last game for the Yankees was the reaction of the crowd.

The 19-year big league veteran left Thursday’s Game 4
of the ALCS in considerable discomfort in the eighth inning of the 8-3 Astros win. Even with the game long out of reach, the standing ovation was deafening for a franchise favourite.

“I think that got me more emotional than the actual injury,” Sabathia said on Friday. “Just hearing the fans and the way they were cheering me, it makes me feel like I made the right choice (with the Yankees) 11 years ago. I love these fans. I love this organization.”

Diagnosed with a dislocated joint in his shoulder, Sabathia was removed from the Yankees playoff roster prior to Friday’s Game 5 at Yankee Stadium.

“I think it’s just kind of fitting that I threw until I couldn’t any more,” said Sabathia, who had announced his retirement earlier in the season and was honoured with a ceremony during the last homestead of the regular season when the Blue Jays were in town.

The six-time all star appreciated his time with the Yankees, a feeling that was obviously mutual with the team’s fan base.

“It has been an amazing 11 years,” Sabathia said. “I’ve loved every minute of it here in the Bronx and really worldwide. Yankee universe is worldwide. I’ve enjoyed being a part of it.”

So even in pain — both physical and in defeat — it certainly was a gallant way to close the book for Sabathia.

“It was kind of a perfect way to go out,” manager Aaron Boone said. “He’s been the ultimate teammate, competitor, gamer. He left everything on the field, everything on the mound.”