CC Sabathia CC Sabathia had originally hoped to be back by the All-Star break.
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A little over a month into his disabled list stint for an inflamed right knee, CC Sabathia is gradually working his way back.

That process began with a 25-pitch bullpen session Monday and continued Wednesday with another. He came away without any problems and if there are no issues the next three days he will throw a third bullpen before Saturday’s game with the Orioles.

Although Sabathia had previously said he was hoping to get back shortly before the All-Star break, the Yankees are not going to commit to a return date until the rehab process is completed and he has made a few starts in the minor leagues.

 

“I can’t get give you the exact time but you’re trying to build him up to 90 pitches,” Girardi said. “For me to get into specifics, it doesn’t make a lot of sense. ... For me, the important thing is getting [through it] day by day and every time he goes out and throws another bullpen or goes beyond that, it’s a positive sign. And right now the signs are positive.”

Warren talks starting

If the Yankees make a change to their struggling rotation, the logical decision might be to drop Vidal Nuno, who has not won since May 7 and has a 5.90 ERA.

Nuno is still scheduled to start Saturday, but if a move is made, Adam Warren could be the answer.

“I’m definitely open to it,” Warren said. “I’ve always wanted to be a starter. ... I feel like I’ll have to transition a bit because I’ve been in the mindset of a reliever. It’s definitely two different mindsets. It’s more difficult than most people think.”

Warren started throughout the minor leagues and made three spot starts last year when he wasn’t the long man. This year, he has been part of the late-inning mix and has a 2.19 ERA in 30 games.

“If you end up [removing Nuno], I think you have to have a couple of long men because if you’re stretching out a guy the chances are you’re going to be using one of the long men then and you hate to ever be without a long man,” manager Joe Girardi said.

Tobacco kills

Many throughout baseball paid tribute to Tony Gwynn following his death from oral cancer on Monday. The cancer was believed to be caused by regular use of chewing tobacco.

During Gwynn’s era (1982-2001), it was more prevalent than it is now, especially since it is banned in the minor leagues and not allowed to be used during televised interviews or at team functions. But even though dugouts are filled with buckets of gum and sunflower seeds, some continue using since the last CBA ratified in 2011 did not completely ban the use of smokeless tobacco although the players union agreed to join forces with the Partnership at Drugfree.org and started a Tobacco Cessation Center for players.

Fifteen years ago a survey published in the Journal of Athletic Training found that nearly one-third of rookies in the major leagues were already regular smokeless tobacco users. There have been official results published since then of its usage, but Girardi seemed to think there had been a decline.

“It does seem like it’s come down,” Girardi said. “But I can’t tell you what the exact percentages were and are now. I never really paid a lot of attention and I think some of that has to do with what they started in the minor leagues too. Obviously that’s where it starts and it’s obviously very dangerous.”

In terms of telling his players about whether to use it, Girardi doesn’t do that but he did encourage his son Dante not to begin using.

“I think you express concerns with all the health things that guys put in their mouth, the repetition and how often they’re doing it,” Girardi said. “These are grown men and I have to be careful about what I talk about and what I don’t talk about in a sense. I did talk to my son about it and what Tony felt that oral cancer [did to him] and encouraged him to never do it because it is dangerous.”

Follow Yankees beat writer Larry Fleisher on Twitter @LarryFleisher.

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