Crooked capped Indians starter C.C. Sabathia, as quoted by the AP’s Paul Saynca.

œThere aren™t very many African-American players, and it™s not just in here, it™s everywhere, Sabathia said Wednesday between morning workouts. œIt™s not just a problem ” it™s a crisis.

Sabathia, the only black player on the Indians™ 25-man roster last season, feels baseball could be doing more to promote its game to inner-city kids who are gravitating toward basketball and other sports.

œI go back home to Vallejo, Sabathia said of his offseason time in California, œand the kids say, ™What™s baseball?™ It™s not just an issue for my hometown, it™s an issue for the whole country. I think Major League Baseball should do something about it. I don™t know exactly what they could be doing, but I know it™s not enough.

Sabathia appreciates some of the steps baseball has taken to make itself more appealing to young blacks such as the Urban Youth Academy, which opened last year in Compton, Calif. Also, there™s the RBI (Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities) program, which has attracted more than 120,000 kids worldwide.

Still, it™s not enough to Sabathia, who along with Florida™s Dontrelle Willis are the only prominent black starting pitchers in the majors.

œThat™s amazing. That™s unbelievable, he said. œI don™t think people understand that there is a problem. They see players like Jose Reyes and Carlos Delgado and just assume that they™re black.

œThey don™t see us playing, Sabathia said. œWhen I grew up, I was a pitcher and I liked the Oakland A™s. I liked Dave Stewart. I was a big left-handed hitter, so I liked Dave Parker. You had Barry Bonds playing in San Francisco, guys like that. There were a lot of guys to look up to.

If he was a kid today, would Sabathia be playing baseball?

œNo way, he said. œThat™s the truth.