An uneventful All-Star Game had a few nice moments, none more confusing to everyone involved than when AL manager Alex Cora sent out CC Sabathia to talk to Aroldis Chapman after two batters in the ninth. “I thought he was going to take me out of the game,” Chapman said through a translator. “I looked over at the bullpen and nobody was warming up, so things are not making sense.”
No pitching change was in the offing; Cora had sent out Sabathia, who is retiring after this year, for a curtain call in the city where he started his career. Sabathia didn’t mind the hand from Cleveland fans, but he was a little concerned that his coaching might be messing with a good thing.
“I got nervous when I got out there, like, ‘What am I supposed to say? If he gives up a hit after, it’s my fault,’” Sabathia said.
Chapman did not give up a hit. He completed striking out the side, earning the save on a 4-3 AL victory.
Sabathia, who recently said he wants to join the Yankees’ front office after retiring as a player, had already received one honor before the game, when he was tapped to give the AL team a pregame pep speech. For years and years that speech had traditionally been given by Ichiro Suzuki, who famously worked blue. (Ichiro was always very good at profanity.) Sabathia wasn’t quite up to that—players said his speech was mostly about enjoying the moment—but he did close by imploring his teammates, “let’s go kick their ass.”
Sabathia wasn’t too proud of his speech, though he did acknowledge its effectiveness.
“It was terrible,” Sabathia said after the AL’s victory. “It did work and we won, but it was terrible.”