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Friday, March 23, 2012
Rapid Reaction: Joba's injury

By Andrew Marchand

WHAT IT MEANS: Joba Chamberlain's career as a Yankee could be in jeopardy after an off-field accident that resulted in a dislocated ankle. Yankees GM Brian Cashman could not give a timetable for Chamberlain's possible return, but it seems implausible that Chamberlain will be back this season. He was already going to be out until at least June after Tommy John surgery.

For the Yankees, the recently signed David Aardsma, who is also recovering from Tommy John, will be looked upon to be the extra bullpen ingredient before the July 31 trade deadline. In the short-term, I tend to doubt it will have any impact on whether Phil Hughes is in the rotation or not. The Yankees think of Hughes, first and foremost, as a starter and that is where I think he will begin the season.

WHAT COULD HAPPEN NEXT: Besides a long recovery from two major injuries, you have to wonder if Chamberlain will be offered a new contract for next season because he is due to make $1.65 million this year and is arbitration eligible. The Yankees could non-tender Chamberlain and then try to sign him at a reduced rate. At that point, Chamberlain would be able to sign with any team.

WHAT IS JOBA'S LEGACY: Jobamania pre-dated Linsanity and Timsanity in New York. His impact as the setup savior of the 2007 campaign was arguably the greatest debut a Yankee has ever made. He was overwhelming and the future seemed as if it were just a matter of which road he would take -- the next great Yankees starter or closer.

Instead, Chamberlain's ride has been a much more windy road from the Joba Rules, as a starter to a reliever to the bridge to Mariano Rivera to seventh-inning guy to sixth-inning guy to ... injured. So you wonder what is next?  He is only 26, which, to put into perspective, is only two years older than Thursday's Yankees starter, Adam Warren, who is a top prospect and hasn't even started his major league career yet.

That is what a shooting star Joba has been. At this point, his career doesn't look like the next Roger Clemens or Rivera, but more like a Mark Fidrych character, a player who captured baseball's imagination at 21 and was out of the game soon after.

HOW WILL JOBA REACT: Knowing Joba, he will be disappointed but determined. He has an optimist's heart and I think he will rely on that to make a comeback. It won't be this year. And it might not be with the Yankees. But he will be determined to do it.

No matter if he ever returns to the Bronx or not, there will always be a thrilling chapter in Yankees history about Chamberlain; it just might not be as long or as glorious as he, the Yankees and the team's fans would have liked.

QUESTION OF THE DAY: What do you make of Joba's career?