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Sunday, September 1, 2013
The last days of Joba?

By Ian Begley

NEW YORK -- At 3:46 on Sunday afternoon, Joba Chamberlain walked slowly off of the Yankee Stadium infield and into the dugout to a polite cheer from the Bronx crowd.

The cheers weren't directed at Chamberlain, though. They were for first baseman Mark Reynolds, who ended the top of the seventh with a putout at first.

Joba Chamberlain
Joba Chamberlain likely won't be in pinstripes after 2013.
For Chamberlain, the seventh inning was one to forget. He allowed a three-run homer to Adam Jones that extended the Orioles' lead to 7-3 and essentially sealed a crushing loss for the Yankees.

Truth be told, the slider to Jones may have been the last pitch Chamberlain throws in a tight game for the Bombers.

Remember, Chamberlain will be a free agent this winter. Barring a monumental turnaround in the final month of the season, there's virtually no chance that the Yankees re-sign him.

And after Sunday's outing, there's virtually no chance Chamberlain gets the ball again with the outcome of a game hanging in the balance.

"Well, we might need him," Joe Girardi said, diplomatically, when asked about using Chamberlain again in a big spot this year.

It probably seems like a lifetime ago now, but Joba was the toast of New York in 2007 when he saved the Yankees' season coming out of the bullpen. Back then, he seemed like the heir apparent to Mariano Rivera.

Since that fairy tale beginning, though, Chamberlain has faltered as a starter, undergone Tommy John surgery and suffered a gruesome ankle injury.

He was healthy to start the 2013 campaign, but this year has turned out to be a forgettable one for the kid from Nebraska.

First, Chamberlain was embroiled in an embarrassing episode with Rivera in May, when he rebuked the legendary closer for asking Chamberlain to lower his voice.

And if that wasn't embarrassing enough, Chamberlain had been relegated to mop-up duty for most of the year.

He made just seven appearances in July after a disastrous June in which the 27-year-old allowed nine runs in 6 2/3 innings over seven outings.

In August, he held hitters to a .214 batting average in 11 appearances in mostly mop-up duty.

And then came the first game of September, when Chamberlain helped flush away a win for a team in desperate need of one.

"All the losses hurt right now," Chamberlain said. "... (But) we have the opportunity to come back tomorrow and play the White Sox."

After what happened Sunday afternoon, Chamberlain probably won't get that opportunity.