Just by playing a lazy game of catch, CC Sabathia can tell that his valuable left elbow is in far better shape these days.

“I definitely feel a relief — just having that range of motion back and not having that ache at the end of my extension,” Sabathia said. “I felt that right away.”

During most of last year’s second half, the Yankees’ ace gritted through varying degrees of elbow stiffness.

“It was always there,” said Sabathia, who had surgery to remove a bone spur a week after the Yankees were swept from the AL Championship Series.

Sabathia was sent packing in the fourth inning of that playoff finale under a hail of Detroit hits.

“I can’t make any excuse, either way, how I pitched,” Sabathia said, though his outlook on 2013 is far brighter now that a major physical and mental barrier has been lifted.

Yankees pitchers and catchers reported Tuesday, and on Thursday, Sabathia is scheduled to throw his first bullpen session of camp – his overture in a camp brimming of veterans with high odometer readings.

“It’s always a concern, but that’s something we’ve been talking about for the last few years — it’s an old roster,” manager Joe Girardi said. “Last year we were old and we won 95 games.”

Much attention will be paid to Derek Jeter, 38, who has begun running after fracturing his left ankle in last year’s ALCS; and Mariano Rivera, 43, who is coming off a lost season due to knee surgery.