Sabathia 1 of several big names trying to stave off decline
After an unimpressive showing in spring training games, it wasn't clear whether CC Sabathia was really worthy of a spot in the starting rotation for the Yankees.
His first outing gave New York reason to feel encouraged.
Sabathia made it to the seventh inning Saturday in an 8-4 win over the Detroit Tigers, allowing only four hits in his first start since missing the postseason in 2015 while in alcohol rehabilitation. The 35-year-old left-hander still has a lot to prove, and he's one of a handful of older players around baseball whose performances will be tough to predict this year.
''I felt great all spring, but that's when I'm working on my mechanics, so I'm not worried about results,'' Sabathia said. ''My knee was good, which was the important thing.''
Since switching to a tighter knee brace in September, Sabathia is 3-1 with a 2.57 ERA in six starts.
Here are a few more players well into their 30s who may be facing make-or-break seasons:
Adrian Beltre, Rangers (37 years old): Beltre's consistency has been impressive over the years, but his .287 average last season was his lowest since 2009. He had three hits including a homer Saturday.
Victor Martinez, Tigers (37): Martinez went from hitting .335 with 32 homers in 2014 to .245 with 11 homers last year. The Detroit designated hitter homered in his first two at-bats of this season.
Jonathan Papelbon, Nationals (35): It goes without saying that Washington fans will have limited patience with Papelbon if he falters, but he has not had an ERA over 3.00 since 2010.
David Wright, Mets (33): Wright played only 38 games last season because of spinal stenosis, but he was back for New York's postseason run. He hasn't hit 20 homers since 2012.
A few other developments from around the majors:
DOWN AND UP
The award for most unusual first week has to go to the San Diego Padres, who were shut out in their first three games against the Dodgers, then won 13-6 and 16-3 at Colorado. The Padres scored at least 13 runs only three times in all of 2015.
The bottom three teams in the NL East - Miami, Atlanta and Philadelphia - all lost between 91 and 99 games last season, and that group is off to a bad start again. As of Sunday morning, those teams were a combined 2-10.
The Orioles were the team that made it the longest this year without a loss - the only team to make it to Sunday undefeated. The standings aren't hugely meaningful at this early stage in the season, but Baltimore can take some encouragement in the identity of the last team to lose at the beginning of 2015.
That was the Kansas City Royals.
Good luck figuring out what will become of Philadelphia's closer situation. Jeanmar Gomez saved the Phillies' first win of the season Saturday, but only after Dalier Hinojosa blew a ninth-inning lead earlier in the week.
The other question is whether Philadelphia will have enough late leads to make any of its closing options worth owning.
LINE OF THE WEEK
This is a three-way tie among Dodgers. The Los Angeles rotation has been sensational so far: Clayton Kershaw allowed one hit and struck out nine in seven innings in the season opener, then Scott Kazmir allowed one hit in six innings the next day. On Friday, Ross Stripling was five outs from a no-hitter when he was taken out in the eighth. He had walked four in his major league debut.
Follow Noah Trister at www.Twitter.com/noahtrister