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Wednesday, February 22, 2012
First Pitch: If Good Joba returns, thank me

By Andrew Marchand

If Joba Chamberlain comes back to become the Joba Chamberlain of old, then there is only one person who should receive credit for it.

Me.

Why do I say this? Joba told me.

I wrote about Joba in our 25Q/25D series. Joba read it ... and it sounds like he will read it over and over and over.

“Reading your article was definitely a motivator,” Chamberlain said.  “All I can do is thank you. That’s all I can say about that.”

Chamberlain agreed there was nothing unfair about the article, though he was particularly upset about being called, in his words, "irrelevant."

I actually never used that term, but did say he was a non-factor right now and it seems hard to fathom him being a major one again as a Yankee.

“I’m still part of the team,” Chamberlain said. “You have your opinion. You are entitled to that. All I can say is thank you.”

It seems, even if he were to come back strong, the highest spot he probably could hold is the eighth inning. That is an important role, but at the height of 2007's Jobamania I doubt anyone thought that Joba would still be a setup man -- at  best -- in 2013.

Brian Cashman said the other day that Chamberlain is taking his rehab very seriously. On a scale from 1-to-10, he is a 10, Cashman said. Good for Chamberlain. Good for his career. Maybe one day, Chamberlain, once the heir to The Rocket, then the heir to Mo, will be where so many thought he would be. He has seen a lot in his six years.

"You ain’t got enough time to write what I have learned," Chamberlain said. "I can’t describe what I’ve learned. A lot of things in baseball and in life, you really can’t describe it all.”

On Wednesday Joba will throw from a mound for the first time since his Tommy John surgery. The earliest he is expected back for real is June.

Chamberlain is motivated. He is now the underdog candidate to replace Mo. If he does it, you will know who to thank.

ON DECK CIRCLE: Wally and I will be in the clubhouse when it opens at 9:10 a.m. And on the field for the season's third official workouts. We will be on the blog all day. So please keep checking back. And thanks for reading.

IN THE HOLE: At noon, I will have a blog go up in which Manny Banuelos talks about what he has to improve.

SCHEDULED STARTER: Also on tap is a podcast with Phil Hughes. Should be up in the late afternoon.

QUESTION OF THE DAY: In your most optimistic view, what can Joba be as a Yankee?