"I didn't really have any range of motion, so I was a little nervous," Sabathia said Sunday, one day after landing on the 15-day disabled list. "Never having any arm injuries or anything like that, I didn't know what to do."
Sabathia's wife did know, even if it wasn't her husband's preferred choice.
"I wasn't going to say anything, but my wife was going to call (head athletic trainer Steve Donohue) herself if I didn't say something," Sabathia said. "She made me go in there and tell him."
Not long after, Sabathia was undergoing an MRI exam then anxiously awaiting the results.
"I didn't know what was going to come back, what was going to happen," he said. "It was definitely tough."
Fortunately for Sabathia and the Yankees, there was no structural damage, just inflammation. But when the pain returned during and after Sabathia's start at Detroit on Aug. 8, and again after he threw on the sideline Friday, the Yankees decided he needed time to recover. Despite Sabathia's insistence that he could keep pitching through the pain, they put him on the DL and recalled right-hander Ryota Igarishi from Triple-A.
Right-hander David Phelps is expected to start in Sabathia's place when New York opens a four-game series against AL West leader Texas at Yankee Stadium on Monday night.
Sabathia, who missed 18 games with a strained left groin earlier this season, wasn't wild about another stint on the DL, but couldn't change the mind of general manager Brian Cashman.
"I felt like I stated a good case," Sabathia said. "Cash wasn't having it though. I definitely did everything I could to not go on the DL."
The 2007 AL Cy Young Award winner, Sabathia is 12-3 with a 3.56 ERA in 20 starts this season.
"It is not easy putting your ace on the DL, let me tell you," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "He is so important to our staff. We were able to do OK without him the first time. I don't necessarily like saying that it is easy to get through it. It's difficult not having him out there, but we have to find a way."
Sabathia, who said breaking balls don't aggravate his elbow any more than fastballs, doesn't know when he'll throw again.
"We haven't talked about it yet," he said. "Right now, it's just a lot of ice, stim (electric stimulation), things like that, just to try and get the swelling down."
Sabathia is sure of one thing: He intends to start at Cleveland on Aug. 24, one day after he's eligible to come off the DL.
"That's the day I'm pitching, for sure," he said.