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CC Sabathia cleared to resume baseball activities

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Last month, Yankees starter CC Sabathia underwent a procedure — angioplasty — in which he had a stent inserted to open a clogged artery. The club announced that the lefty underwent a follow-up stress test on Tuesday and checked out fine. As a result, he has been cleared to begin working out and can resume baseball activities. Sabathia is expected to be ready to participate when spring training begins in February.

Sabathia, 38, inked a one-year, $8 million contract with the Yankees in November. He’s coming off of a solid 2018 campaign in which he finished with a 3.65 ERA and a 140/51 K/BB ratio over 153 innings. It’s the third straight year Sabathia has finished with a sub-4.00 ERA, showing he still has a little something left in the tank in his late 30’s.

Sabathia figures to anchor the back end of the Yankees’ revamped rotation, which also includes Luis Severino, Masahiro Tanaka, J.A. Happ, and James Paxton. The Yankees are expected to trade Sonny Gray, who is on the outside looking in as far as the rotation goes.

Astros defend barring reporter from clubhouse

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As we wrote about this morning, last night the Houston Astros, at the request of Justin Verlander, barred Detroit Free Press reporter Anthony Fenech from the clubhouse during Verlander’s media availability following the Tigers-Astros game. After Verlander was done talking to the press in the scrum setting — and after a call was placed to Major League Baseball about the matter — Fenech was allowed in.

As we noted, this was done in violation of agreements to which Major League Baseball, the Houston Astros and the Baseball Writers Association of America are parties. The agreements are meant to ensure full access to BBWAA-accredited reporters as long as they have not violated the terms of their credentials.  In no case do the clubs — and certainly not the players — have the right to bar access to BBWAA-accredited reporters. Indeed, the whole point of the BBWAA is to ensure such access and to ensure that teams cannot bar them simply because they are unhappy with their coverage or what have you.

This morning Verlander tweeted, obliquely, about “unethical behavior” on the part of Fenech that led to his request to the Astros to bar him. As we noted at the time, such an allegation — however interesting it might be — is of no consequence to the admission or barring of a reporter. If Fenech has acted unethically it’s a matter between him and his employer and, potentially, between him and the BBWAA. At the very least, if Verlander has a specific concern, it would be incumbent upon him or the Astros to take the matter up with either the Free Press or the BBWAA.

In light of all of this, it’s hard to make a case for Verlander’s request and the Astros’ honoring it. A few moments ago, however, the Astros released as statement on the matter which, basically, says, “so what?”

Which is to say, the Astros have made a decades-long agreement between the BBWAA and MLB regarding reporter access optional, because a player does not like a reporter who is covering him.  Someone without the power to alter the BBWAA-MLB relationship has just done so unilaterally. And they have done so in such a way that any player, should they decide they don’t like a reporter, will now presumably rely on as precedent. And, it should be noted, in doing so they gave at least some tacit credence to Verlander’s thus far unsubstantiated and unspecified allegations of unethical behavior on the part of Fenech.

It’s your move, Major League Baseball and BBWAA. Whatcha gonna do about it?