CC Sabathia wouldn’t speculate on Alex Rodriguez’s involvement in baseball’s latest steroids-related scandal, but on Tuesday night he did say he expects the three-time AL MVP to return from hip surgery to play for the Yankees in 2013.

“I would be surprised (if he didn’t return),’’ Sabathia said of A-Rod. “I know how hard he works and how much he cares about wanting to play and wanting to help the team. So I look for him to do everything he can to get back on the field and try and help us.’’

Sabathia, who was being honored at the 33rd annual Thurman Munson Awards dinner in midtown, along with teammate David Phelps, the Mets’ Ike Davis and Giants defensive lineman Chris Canty, said he’s still counting on A-Rod to help the Yankees next season and beyond.

“Of course, why not?’’ he said. “When healthy, he’s a big part of our team.

“Yeah, we want him to be healthy and come back and try to help us win.’’

As for the Miami New Times story that links A-Rod and other players to use of performance-enhancing drugs, Sabathia said he would follow the lead of Derek Jeter, who on Monday said he would reserve comment until the Yankee third baseman has spoken publicly about it.

“I’m going to take Jete’s stance,’’ said Sabathia, “and wait until (A-Rod) comments, and just wait and see what happens.’’

Sabathia, who had surgery four months ago to have bone spurs removed from his elbow, said he has been playing catch in recent weeks, throwing back and forth from 110 feet, and doesn’t anticipate any problems being ready for the season.

He also said the surgery won’t change his mind-set, in terms of the heavy workload of innings he takes on annually.

“I don’t want to hold anything back or sacrifice one season to look forward to three years from now.

“I’m playing for right now, trying to win a championship. I’ll go out as many times as I can and try to help us win.’’

Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/baseball/yankees/sabathia-hip-a-rod-returning-yankees-article-1.1256477#ixzz2K7gtfEXs