NEW YORK -- Manager Joe Girardi said that he was not surprised by Mariano Rivera's decision to return to the mound in 2013.
"I don't think you work that hard -- and take baseballs home and try to play catch without someone seeing you -- if you're not planning on trying to come back," Girardi said.
"It might have been a situation where he was trying to see how he felt, to see if he thought he could come back. I don't think any player ever wants to go out that way."
Rivera, who turns 43 next month, called general manager Brian Cashman last week and confirmed that he intends to pitch next season. Rivera is currently a free agent, and Cashman said he will work with agent Fernando Cuza to hammer out an agreement.
Girardi said that he believes he can count on Rivera to return to the closer's role next season, coming off the career-threatening torn right anterior cruciate ligament he suffered in May.
"My thought process is, when he left, he was throwing the ball well," Girardi said. "I know he's another year older, but he's been able to fight the time clock a little bit. I expect him to be productive."
CC expects to be ready for Spring Training
NEW YORK -- CC Sabathia has been rehabbing five days a week following his Oct. 26 surgery to remove a bone spur from his left elbow and expects to be ready for Spring Training.
"I feel pretty good," Sabathia said. "I've been rehabbing; my flexibility is coming back. Hopefully there will be no delays between now and Spring Training, so I should be ready to go."
Sabathia has been working out three days a week at Yankee Stadium and twice in New York City following the procedure, which was performed by Dr. James Andrews.
Last week, with restrictions in place requiring three passengers or more to cross the George Washington Bridge into New York in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, Sabathia had to pick up assistant trainer Steve Donohue to complete his scheduled work.
"It's coming along pretty good," Sabathia said. "Stevie is pleased, and if Stevie is happy, then I'm happy."
Sabathia expects to resume throwing after Christmas, which is in line with his usual program.
"I really believe that he's going to be fine," manager Joe Girardi said. "Will you see him in tip top form the first day of Spring Training? Maybe not, but that's not uncommon either. I really believe he's going to be OK."
Sabathia said that the bone spur, which has been present in his elbow since he was with the Indians, was not responsible for his subpar performance in Game 4 of the American League Championship Series against the Tigers.
"[The problem would] be the day after, where I couldn't touch my shoulder for the first time," Sabathia said. "It was really bad. I can't use it as an excuse for pitching any bad games or the way I pitched in Game 4. I can't sit here and say that. I was healthy enough to go out and pitch."
Sabathia lobbying Pettitte to come back
NEW YORK -- Beneath the surface of each good-natured text message about the football schedule, CC Sabathia has been quietly gauging Andy Pettitte's thoughts about stepping back into the Yankees' rotation.
Sabathia said on Wednesday that he has been "lobbying hard" for Pettitte to return in 2013, which would answer one of the questions that the Yankees face in what promises to be a busy offseason.
"I know he's hanging out with his family, enjoying that time right now," Sabathia said. "It's not time to put the full court press on him yet. A few texts on a couple of Sundays, talking about football and throwing in, 'Have you decided yet?' We'll see what happens."
Pettitte, 40, said after the American League Championship Series that he would need about a month to reach a decision about next season.
Limited to just 12 regular-season starts because of a fractured left ankle, Pettitte acknowledged that his truncated season hadn't fully exhausted the itch he felt that led him to come out of retirement.
"I definitely, for my own selfish reasons, want Andy to come back," Sabathia said. "He's somebody to talk to. He helps me out a lot being a lefty that's pitching in this league for a long time. Hopefully he does."
Sabathia added that he is also in favor of right-hander Hiroki Kuroda coming back. Kuroda, who will be 38 in February, has been extended a qualifying one-year offer of $13.3 million that he must accept or reject by Friday.
"Hopefully Hiro comes back," Sabathia said. "He was our most consistent pitcher all year. Hopefully he comes back and does great for us again."
Yankees, NY Urban League cancel Football Classic
The New York Urban League and the Yankees announced Wednesday that the 2012 Football Classic that was to be played at Yankee Stadium on Nov. 17 has been cancelled.
According to a Yankees release, team and league officials felt it was important for the Yankees, the NYUL and the city to focus on relief and recovery efforts after Hurricane Sandy.
"On behalf of the New York Urban League Board of Directors and staff, we would like to thank the fans for their continued support and understanding in this matter," Arva Rice, president and CEO of the New York Urban League, said in a statement. "Though the decision to cancel this year's game was necessary, what remains unchanged is our commitment to providing scholarships to college hopefuls."
Fans with tickets can visit www.nyulfootballclassic.com for instructions on how to receive a full refund.
The New York Urban League, which has helped more than 4,000 students of color with college expenses totaling more than $20 million since 1968, has hosted the signature event for more than 40 years.
"After speaking with the New York Urban League, it was apparent that we both reside in a metropolitan community that needs all of our attention and resources focused off the playing field," Yankees chief operating officer Lonn Trost said in a statement. "The continued work of the New York Urban League with our community youth is very important, but the decision to cancel this year's Football Classic was the appropriate one given the current need of our neighbors."
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. Joey Nowak is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @joeynowak. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.