BASEBALL Slimmer Sabathia ready to lead Tribe



The Cleveland pitcher has shed several pounds with his two-a-day workouts this winter.
CLEVELAND (AP) -- C.C. Sabathia has slimmed down from two-a-day workouts this winter. Now, he's ready to carry a heavy load for the Cleveland Indians this season.
Sabathia, who was admittedly out of shape during his second season in the majors, was back at Jacobs Field on Thursday. The large left-hander appeared to have shed several pounds from his 6-foot-7 frame.
"I'm more lively," he said. "I've got a lot more energy."
He'll need it.
Sabathia will be the No. 1 starter for the rebuilding Indians, who went 74-88 in 2002 and could have trouble winning that many in 2003 under first-year manager Eric Wedge.
The 22-year-old Sabathia knows he's going to be counted to give a quality outing every time he takes the mound. He's Cleveland's ace.
"I'll take it on," he said. "I'm not shying away from it. I'm ready for it."
Sabathia's 2002 season was only half bad.
Overweight last season
Coming off an impressive 17-5 rookie year, Sabathia said he "didn't do a thing" before reporting to training camp overweight and overconfident.
The Indians then gave Sabathia a $9.5 million, four-year contract at the start of spring training, a deal that with incentives and options could swell to $20 million.
However, the only things that swelled were Sabathia's waistline and his ERA during the first half of last season. He went 6-7 with a 4.95 ERA in his first 17 starts.
He rebounded by having a solid second half, going 7-2 with a 2.54 ERA in his last 11 starts. In six September starts, he was 4-1 with a 2.51 ERA.
"I actually think I had a better second year, learning wise," he said.
Toughest off-season workout
One of the lessons was to take better care of himself. Sabathia said he has never worked out in the off-season as diligently as he has this winter.
Beginning Dec. 1, he spent more than three weeks at a fitness facility in Arizona. He began working out at 9 a.m. each day with two hours of running and weight lifting, followed by a break for lunch, and then another two-hour workout.
"I think it was something that needed to be done," said Sabathia, who weighed more than 300 pounds at one point last season. "I think I took things for granted. Now I want to start this season like I finished last year."

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