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CC Sabathia: 'I want to pitch after next year'

The 36-year-old veteran lefty is in the midst of his 16th career MLB season

Veteran pitcher CC Sabathia has logged more career strikeouts than any active pitcher in the Majors, and after a promising 2016, he's already looking beyond next season after his contract with the Yankees is due to expire.

Sabathia recently discussed his future with Mark Feinsand of the Daily News, and made it clear that he intends to pitch beyond 2017.

"I know I feel like it's not my time yet. Barring any crazy injuries, I know I can pitch past next year," Sabathia told Feinsand.

"I feel like this is just the beginning of what I'm trying to do. I feel like there's a lot more still to learn and a lot better to get. It's exciting."

The 36-year-old southpaw enters Thursday night's start against the Red Sox with an 8-12 record and 4.02 ERA, but those numbers don't quite tell the whole story of how effective he has been all season for the Yankees.

On five occasions, Sabathia has held his opponents to two earned-runs-or-fewer while the Yankees offense did not manage to score more than one run, all of which resulted in losses. In four of those starts, Sabathia tossed at least six innings.

Without an abundance of run support, Sabathia's win-loss record has taken the brunt of his team's intermittent struggles at the plate, but those who have watched his 2016 season from start to finish know that Sabathia is an improved pitcher from a year ago.

"I feel good about CC every time he takes the mound," said Yankees manager Joe Girardi. "When I look at his numbers, the way he's pitched, the way he's really pitched down the stretch, and how well he's pitched here for us, I think he's had a pretty good year."

After surrendering three earned runs in each of his first four starts, CC reeled off a seven-start stretch from May 4 to June 16 where he pitched to a 0.82 ERA. After his first 11 outings, his ERA stood at 2.20 for the year.

"Health has been a big factor," CC explained, as he's utilized a right knee brace which has helped stabilize his landing foot on the mound this season. "I feel like I've made big strides in becoming the pitcher I've been trying to become. I'm excited about it. As long as I'm healthy, I feel like I'll be able to get big-league hitters out. I've proven that."

Sabathia is on track to finish the 2016 season with at least 170 innings logged for the 14th time in his 16-year MLB career, cementing him as one of baseball's most durable arms over the last two decades. With a surgically repaired knee in healthy shape and his alcohol-related off-the-field issues behind him, CC said he is more excited for this offseason than he's been in a long time.

"I feel good, I'm in a good spot, my head is in the right spot going into the offseason," Sabathia said. "I'm excited to spend some time with my kids and just enjoying that time."

The longtime Yankees veteran admitted he hasn't thought much about where his next opportunity might come after the 2017 season, but he's certainly not eager to leave The Bronx quite yet.

"I know I want to pitch after next year, but I haven't thought about where or what," Sabathia said. 

"Hopefully it will be here. We'll see."