Former Yankee CC Sabathia says he was a better baseball player when overweight. But now he's a golfer, and he's jacked.
- Former Yankees star pitcher CC Sabathia was almost 50 pounds overweight near the end of his career.
- Sabathia lost 40 lbs one year, and his performance on the mound cratered. So he gained the weight back.
CC Sabathia managed a late-career resurgence with the New York Yankees from 2017-2019, and did it all while nearly 50 pounds overweight, he said.
Sabathia, who played 18 MLB seasons and won a World Series with the Yankees in 2009, started to see his stats decline after the 2012 season, his last as an All-Star. The 6-foot-7 former pitcher told Insider that his weight had reached around 310 pounds at that point in his career, which was 50 pounds more than he weighed as a rookie in 2001.
So after the 2013 season Sabathia committed to bringing his weight down by adopting a strict carb-free diet, and spent the entire off-season eating only meat, fish, vegetables, and certain fruits.
"It was no carbs for the whole off-season," Sabathia said. "There was no way I was going to be able to sustain that."
The diet helped Sabathia bring his weight back down to 268 pounds for the start of spring training in 2014 — his age 33 season.
Sabathia went into that year at the top of the Yankees' starting pitching rotation for the fifth straight year, but his performance ranked near the bottom of the team's pitchers, posting the worst ERA and WHIP of his career in just eight starts. He missed the rest of the year to injury.
Sabathia said slimming down directly caused his disastrous season.
"I felt good, but I just wasn't strong," Sabathia said. "I just had no velocity. I had no push. I couldn't feel my body in space."
So Sabathia quit his diet and restored his old eating habits. His weight followed, bouncing back to 290 pounds by the time he reported to spring training in 2015.
Sabathia's performance improved that season, but in limited starts; he left the team in September and missed the playoffs to enter rehab to treat his ongoing alcoholism.
Then, in 2016 at age 35, many assumed Sabathia was close to retirement, as he had dropped to the bottom of the Yankees pitching rotation, and his contract was set to expire after the 2017 season. But then he started to pitch like he used to, and he credited his body composition.
"It took me a while, but I got back up to 290 pounds and felt a lot better," Sabathia said.
The 2007 Cy Young winner's statistical performance improved from 2016-17, especially in three 2017 postseason starts, in which he led the Yankees to within one game of getting back to the World Series. Sabathia then signed two more contract extensions with the Yankees before officially retiring in 2019.
Sabathia transformed his body after retirement with golf and the Mediterranean diet
Sabathia retired shortly before the COVID-19 pandemic shut most of the world down in 2020.
But when the pandemic hit, he committed to getting into the best shape of his life at the age of 39, he said. Sabathia said he lost 40 pounds after retirement but has gained 20 back in muscle, currently weighing in at 280 pounds.
Sabathia said he started following the Mediterranean diet during quarantine. Ranked among the healthiest eating plans in the world, the diet involves emphasizing plant-based food sources, and minimizing protein, carbs, and dairy without cutting them out completely.
"I feel better. I feel like this is sustainable," Sabathia said. "I feel like when I was doing no carbs it was a lot harder just to find food, but to be able to switch to this feels good."
Sabathia said he also was "bit by the golf bug" since hitting the links was one of the only activities available early in the pandemic. He started to play multiple times per week. He said golf has been critical to his new physique since it allows him to get daily low-impact workouts in the form of walking and golf strokes.
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