After checking into rehab due to issues with alcohol just one day before the MLB postseason began, Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia discussed his life-changing decision on Friday with Good Morning America.
Sabathia, 35, was battling through another difficult season on the mound in 2015, pitching to a 6-10 record with a 4.73 ERA in 167-and-one-third innings. But his baseball struggles took a backseat to his life struggles, which the 15-year veteran revealed date back several years.
“In 2012 I came to the realization that I was an alcoholic. I was battling it without any help,” Sabathia told Good Morning America. “I was just tired of hiding. I feel such a relief that everybody knows now. It is what it is. I can start the healing process and take the steps forward to get myself better.”
Repressing his issues with alcohol for three years, Sabathia constantly and quietly fought the demons in his own mind, not seeking out the help that he knew was crucial. It wasn’t until a weekend of binge drinking in Baltimore during the last weekend of the regular season that reality set in for Sabathia, and he realized he needed help.
“It was the last day of the season. I think it was October 4th that I woke up and felt like I needed help. It was a tough decision to make because I felt like I was leaving my teammates, but I definitely needed the help to be a better husband, father, teammate, player.”
While Sabathia’s struggles as a baseball player date back to the beginning of the 2013 regular season, the big man did clear up one thing for people who may have thought his alcoholism started to affect him during games.
“That was one of the things that I wanted to clear up by doing this. I never drank before games or anything like that.”
By the same token, some fans were upset with the timing of Sabathia’s announcement, as the Yankees were preparing to host the Houston Astros at Yankee Stadium to see which team would be moving on to the American League Division Series. It was the Yankees first postseason appearance since 2012.
However, Sabathia wants people to understand that much like any physical injury that could’ve sidelined him, alcoholism is just as serious as any issue he could fight.
“I understand where fans would be upset and people don’t understand, but it’s a disease. If it was my knee or if it was anything else, people wouldn’t have a problem with it. But it being alcoholism it’s tough for people to swallow, but it’s the same thing.”
Throughout the entire ordeal, Sabathia says that the support he’s received from his family, friends, and teammates have been positive. Sabathia’s wife, Amber, became a messenger for Sabathia, who was not allowed to have a phone with him in rehab. She recalled a day where she went to see her husband and that Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Andy Pettitte, and Brian McCann all reached out to give their support.
Yet, it was Sabathia’s four kids who played the biggest role in his quest for help, saying, “That definitely played into my mind, wanting to be there in the long run for my kids and taking control of this thing, and trying to live the rest of my life the right way.”
Back at home and beginning the hardest part of his journey amid the temptations available to him outside of rehab, the Yankees left-handed pitcher is looking towards continuing his baseball career and hopefully helping others fight the lifelong disease known as alcoholism.
“I look to be a role model in staying sober, and leading by example. I’m just here to say this disease has no color, no age, and it’s very serious. I advise anybody if they’re out there feeling like they need help to get it.”
[Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images]