One thing I have known about Joba Chamberlain since I first met him during his time with the Double-A Trenton Thunder in 2007 is “what you see is what you get.’’
He’ll tell you how he feels about a certain subject and, in a refreshing way, the reasoning behind it.
Take Tuesday, for example. He was just about to pull into the Mercer County Waterfront parking lot for his final rehab appearance when his phone rang.
“When I got to Trenton, I was literally pulling into the parking lot and Stevie [Donohue, trainer] called and said, ‘You might want to turn around,’ ” Chamberlain told reporters Tuesday night. “My heart started beating fast. I didn’t know what happened.”
What happened was the Yankees jettisoned reliever Chad Qualls, sending him to Pittsburgh for infielder Casey McGehee – who, by the way, will look different when he adheres to the Yankees’ rules on beards .
This culminated a 14-month journey to return to The Bronx, following Tommy John surgery and the infamous trampoline accident in March.
Can Chamberlain immediately help the Yankees? What can fans expect?
“I really feel I’m ready,’’ said Chamberlain. “The one key is facing more hitters, getting into the mental rhythm of it all.’’
In Trenton Sunday, Chamberlain not only displayed a moving fastball in the 97-98 mph range, but also both a snappy curve and buckling slider. Granted this was against Double-A hitters from the Harrisburg Senators, but batters at that level have solid ability.
Trenton manager Tony Franklin also figured Chamberlain’s activation by the Yankees Tuesday made sense.
“Another rehab appearance wouldn’t have hurt him,’’ said Franklin, “but I thought he looked great Sunday. He’s ready.’’
Chamberlain did not pitch in Tuesday night’s 11-5 Yankees loss to the Baltimore Orioles, but is expected to throw two innings this afternoon – if needed – as the Yankees face the Orioles at 1:05 p.m.
He said he is ready to throw “30-40 pitches’’ if required and joked with reporters the “Joba Rules’’ are out the window,
“I’m all in, 100 percent,’’ Chamberlain said. “No rules. I just want to pitch.’’
Given he is on a non-guaranteed, $1.675 million contract this season, the next two months are obviously important to Chamberlain as far as his Yankees future is concerned. If he gives the bullpen a boost, he makes himself a valuable commodity again.
If not, who knows what the future brings for a man who has made 193 appearances (43 starts) in Pinstripes.
Based on how he is throwing the ball, coupled with the fact the Yankees, after the trampoline mishap, were not counting on Chamberlain in 2012, anything he gives the team is a bonus.
For both the pitcher and the club.
The Yankees former phenom Chamberlain is back to where he needs to be, writes Jed Weisberger.