Joba Chamberlain is scheduled to pitch Tuesday in Double-A Trenton's home game against Altoona. General Manager Brian Cashman indicated the Yankees could make a decision on whether to bring Chamberlain back to the Bronx following that outing, as they have until Aug. 6 to activate or reassign the reliever as part of his 30-day rehab window.
"I think he turns into a pumpkin on Aug. 6," Cashman said before the Yankees faced the Orioles. "(So far) he's done everything he needs to do."
Chamberlain is on the disabled list with a dislocated right ankle and a torn right MCL. The reliever was at the stadium Monday and said he felt good, and planned to long-toss, run and lift. He last appeared for the Yankees on June 5, 2011 before undergoing Tommy John surgery and an appendectomy last June.
"I felt ready a month ago. It's just now continuing to get in game situations," Chamberlain said. "Obviously you can go into any game situation and be ready, but to go through the experiences and the process we've gone through so far, obviously it's helped us to get better and clean up some things. We have to continue to focus on everything we've done to this point. Even when I do get back, still have to focus on everything we've done to get me back to this point and keep building off that."
Chamberlain last pitched Sunday for Trenton, tossing 1 1/3 scoreless innings. He entered with two outs and none on in the seventh and recorded four outs, three by strikeout. He threw 23 of his 30 pitches for strikes, and he said his offspeed pitches were faster than he expected, which he had been hoping for during his progression. Manager Joe Girardi received good reviews on the outing.
"The report we got on him yesterday was he's continued to improve," Girardi said. "His command has gotten better, his breaking balls have gotten sharper. I think that's the important thing. ... His stuff was pretty good yesterday."
In seven appearances in the minors, Chamberlain has tossed 9 1/3 innings and surrendered just one earned run. He's yielded four hits and one walk, but has struck out 10 batters. He's been able to pitch in many different situations, such as Sunday, when he came in to finish an inning and then started a clean frame as well.
While the reliever said the past month of rehab work has gone by quickly, Chamberlain is thrilled to be getting closer to a possible return to the Yankees.
"It feels good. I feel like Usain Bolt right now. Just not quite that fast," Chamberlain said of approaching the finish line. "Just to know it's there and the hard work has paid off and to know there is an end in sight is awesome. To know you're going to be back up here helping the team win and to be in whatever role it is, it's a blessing to me and I'm excited for it."