MILWAUKEE -- CC Sabathia's time with the Brewers spanned only a few months in what has been a lengthy and successful career, but that 2008 playoff run marked a special time for the veteran left-hander.
So as Sabathia rolled over some familiar Wisconsin highways on Friday and spotted Miller Park approaching in the distance, he said that he experienced a good feeling wash over him, recalling a time when he had Milwaukee buzzing.
"I was just telling somebody, when I got traded here, we only played here six weeks, eight weeks," Sabathia said. "But I feel like I had been here my whole career, just from the people in the organization and the players. I wasn't here a long time, but my time here, it was a good time."
Dealt by the Indians in a July 7, 2008 trade, Sabathia proved to be one of the best midseason acquisitions in history. He went 11-2 with a dominant 1.65 ERA in 17 starts, striking out 128 batters in 130 2/3 innings while leading Milwaukee to its first postseason appearance since 1982.
In just a half season, Sabathia led the National League with seven complete games and three shutouts. Even with free agency around the corner, Sabathia gamely volunteered to take the ball on three days' rest in each of his last three starts, winning twice and rattling off an 0.83 ERA in those outings.
"I just wanted to win," Sabathia said. "The organization got me here to come over here to help pitch them into the playoffs and that's what I was here to do. Whether that was pitching on three days' rest or pitching out of the bullpen, or whatever I had to do to try to help, I was here to do that."
Sabathia turned in his Brewers colors when Milwaukee was defeated by the Phillies in a four-game NL Division Series. He soon signed a seven-year, $161 million deal with the Yankees that he called "the best decision for me and my family."
Winning the 2009 World Series in New York, Sabathia said, serves as evidence that he made the right call to close that brief Milwaukee chapter of his career. He believes that those outings with the Brewers paid valuable dividends down the line after being fitted for pinstripes.
"I think that's all the validation," Sabathia said. "Pitching down the stretch in '08 and pitching on three days' rest; pitching in those tight games definitely helped me in '09.
"We went with three starters in the playoffs in '09, pitching on three days' rest the whole time, so I was used to it. I was used to the routine and the way everything happens, so I definitely think my time and experience here helped me in '09 be able to go out and pitch and help us win the World Series."
Torre calls Yanks retiring his number 'special'
MILWAUKEE -- It promises to be an emotional summer for Joe Torre, who was already expecting to have a battle on his hands just to get through his induction speech at the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y.
Now that the Yankees have announced that they will also hold a ceremony on Aug. 23 to officially retire Torre's uniform No. 6 and recognize it in Monument Park, the former manager said that he has been choked up by thinking about what the tribute will mean to him.
"It's pretty special," Torre said. "It would always be special when you get honored by a particular team, but when it's the Yankees, you realize what their history is. You know you only have so many numbers to choose from."
Torre's No. 6 will be the 17th number retired by the Yankees to honor 18 players and managers. The ceremony will leave Derek Jeter's No. 2 as the lone remaining single digit in circulation, and obviously that number is ticketed for inclusion in Monument Park as well.
"Who could have ever dreamed at that point, in 1995-96, that this would be the result?" said Torre, who was in Milwaukee to be inducted into the Braves Honor Roll at Miller Park. "It's been awesome to me."
Currently Major League Baseball's executive vice president of baseball operations, Torre compiled a 1,173-767 (.605) regular-season record and a 76-47 (.618) postseason mark during his Yankees tenure, leading the club to the playoffs in each year that he managed the team.
While with the organization, he went 21-11 in the World Series, 27-14 in the American League Championship Series and 28-22 in the AL Division Series. Torre's regular-season wins total is second in club history to only Joe McCarthy, who went 1,460-867 (.627) over 16 seasons from 1931-46.
"When I was managing and I'd go out to the bullpen when somebody was hurt and I was watching them get loose, you would always sort of pause over there and just look [at Monument Park]," Torre said. "The thing that always caught my eye was Yogi [Berra] and Bill Dickey with the same numeral."
Torre said that he is pleased that several of his former players are also being recognized by the Yankees. Plaques honoring Goose Gossage, Paul O'Neill and Tino Martinez will be placed in Monument Park on three separate dates this summer.
Martinez and Gossage will be celebrated during Old-Timers' Day weekend on June 21 and 22, respectively. A ceremony for O'Neill will take place on Aug. 9. The ceremonies are part of a series of recognitions that will also include Bernie Williams next year.
"We had a special group," Torre said. "Even though we changed personnel on a yearly basis, there was just something when people came into our clubhouse. It was, 'How can we help?' It wasn't like, 'Here I am.' It really never changed the atmosphere."
Girardi wonders if tumble has slowed Beltran
MILWAUKEE -- Carlos Beltran isn't drawing any parallels between a scary April 17 tumble over a short right-field fence at Tropicana Field and an extended slump at the plate, but Yankees manager Joe Girardi acknowledged on Friday that he has wondered about it.
Beltran had MRIs on his left shoulder and right wrist after the play, in which he flipped a wall while chasing a Desmond Jennings foul ball and landed hard on a concrete walkway.
The American League's Player of the Week for the period of April 7-13, Beltran has batted just .186 (11-for-59) in 14 games since the game against the Rays.
"He swung the bat really well in Boston after that, but I've thought about that, wondering could there be something there," Girardi said. "He says he feels good and doesn't get a lot of treatment, but I still wonder about it."
Beltran has three hits in his last 15 at-bats entering play on Friday and went 1-for-6 in two games against the Angels on this road trip.
"I thought he had some decent at-bats in L.A. that last game. He's due," Girardi said. "He's just going through what other guys have gone through over the course of a season. Eventually you get even, and that's the fun time for a hitter."
Kelley unavailable to pitch in series opener
MILWAUKEE -- Yankees right-hander Shawn Kelley was unavailable to pitch on Friday due to a stiff lower back, manager Joe Girardi announced after the club's 5-3 victory over the Brewers.
Kelley said that he had an MRI performed after experiencing discomfort during the team's flight from California to Milwaukee. The tests were negative and ruled out any disk problems; Kelley hopes to be available to pitch on Saturday.
"We tried to pinpoint something, but it was just a little bit of stiffness that I tried to just kind of count off and not give it too much," Kelley said. "I kept pushing through it and it got a little bit tighter."
Kelley said that he has never had back problems before, but he started to notice some stiffness during the Yankees' series against the Angels earlier this week. He is 1-2 with a 3.52 ERA in 16 relief appearances for New York this season.
Fan runs on field, asks Jeter for hug
MILWAUKEE -- The fan asked for a hug, Derek Jeter said. After interrupting the Yankees' game against the Brewers at Miller Park, the young man wearing a navy blue Ryan Braun jersey likely got much more than he bargained for.
Jeter received an unusual greeting in the sixth inning of New York's 5-3 victory over Milwaukee when the fan jumped out of the seats behind the third-base dugout, running to Jeter's shortstop position with his arms outstretched.
"I said, 'You're going to get in trouble, man,'" Jeter said. "And then he repeated that he wanted a hug, and I said, 'Look out.' That's pretty much what happened."
The fan, who was wearing a headband and appeared to be in his mid-20s, rushed the field while Jonathan Lucroy was batting against Masahiro Tanaka. He was tackled to the infield dirt by two Miller Park security guards.
Fans who trespass onto the field are subject to arrest. Jeter, who once had a female fan rush the field at Yankee Stadium to offer her phone number, said that he was not scared by the incident.
"If you saw his face, it wasn't like he was coming out there angry," Jeter said. "So no, it wasn't scary."
Watching from the third-base dugout, though, Yankees manager Joe Girardi said that he had some concern for the captain.
"I was like, 'Derek, move,'" Girardi said. "Derek just kind of stood there. Obviously he didn't feel threatened, but it's not what you want because you never know what people are up to.
"It happens and it's an unfortunate part of the game, but I thought the Brewers handled it well and got him out quickly and didn't really delay the game long."
• Torre, in his role as Major League Baseball's executive vice president of baseball operations, said that umpire Laz Diaz "certainly has to take his share of the blame" for a pair of incidents during Monday's game against the Angels in Anaheim.
Diaz ejected both Girardi and right-hander Shawn Kelley in the contest. Girardi was tossed for arguing balls and strikes, but he was most irked by Diaz's dismissive actions behind the plate, and Girardi said that he believed Diaz had instigated the situation.
"We certainly look at it and we address it," Torre said. "There's passion. Players aren't the only ones who share the passion here. You have the managers and the umpires, and Laz is a good guy. Sometimes he does things that without thinking they're going to be perceived the way they're perceived. ... He certainly, I think, contributed to what took place that night."
Torre said that he would speak to Girardi, who said that he has moved on.
"It's all over now," Girardi said.
• Right-hander Michael Pineda (right shoulder muscle) has been exercising and is close to playing catch. The Yankees have estimated that Pineda, who was officially placed on the disabled list on May 6, will need three to four weeks to return to the rotation.