|ESPN.com: Baseball||[Print without images]|
NEW YORK -- Joba Chamberlain left his place at 2:45 p.m. ET Tuesday expecting to make another rehab appearance out of the bullpen for Double-A Trenton.
Three hours later, he found himself back at Yankee Stadium, playing catch in right field.
"When I got to Trenton, I was literally pulling into the parking lot (at Waterfront Park), and (trainer) Stevie (Donahue) said, 'You might wanna turn around,' " said Chamberlain, who was activated from the 60-day disabled list by the New York Yankees prior to Tuesday night's 11-5 loss to the Baltimore Orioles.
"So my heart started beating fast and I didn't know what happened, I hadn't seen anything yet ... I had to go to the bathroom really bad, so I had to stop, use the restroom, then turned around and came back."The 26-year-old right-handed reliever hasn't pitched in the major leagues since June 5, 2011. Since then, he's undergone Tommy John surgery, an appendectomy and dislocated his right ankle and torn his right MCL.
"You're expected to go to Trenton to pitch, and then next thing you know, they're telling you to turn around," said Chamberlain, who became a necessity in the Yankees' bullpen after Chad Qualls was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates in exchange for Casey McGehee. "I guess that's the way my career has gone, fast and not knowing what's really going to happen."
General manager Brian Cashman had a feeling Chamberlain might be needed.
"We had some conversations regarding this (prior to the deal). I talked to my trainer today and said, 'Hey, listen, if we trade and lose Chad Qualls, is there any medical reason that would be of concern to activate Joba starting tonight?' " Cashman said. "He said, 'No.' I said, 'OK.' "
Chamberlain left Waterfront Park at around 4:15 p.m., according to the Thunder's official Twitter account, and arrived at Yankee Stadium at approximately 5:35.
"Thank goodness there's no traffic," said Chamberlain, who took the George Washington Bridge to the Bronx instead of the tunnel on the advice of his Twitter followers.
As he was making the trek north, Chamberlain called those people who helped him during his 14-month rehab.
"It's been a tremendous 14 months in a lot of ways," Chamberlain said. "I'm obviously honored to be back here and helping this team. I feel like I've learned so much along the way."
Chamberlain said it felt like he was being called up to the majors all over again, "but I think I was more nervous today then when I got called up (in 2007)," he added.
Chamberlain received a "roll call" from the Bleacher Creatures in the third inning.
"It means a lot. I can't thank everybody (enough) for their support," he said.
Chamberlain threw 1 1/3 scoreless innings for Double-A Trenton on Sunday. He appeared in seven minor league games during his rehab, and had a 0.96 ERA in 9 1/3 innings.
Manager Joe Girardi had been getting good reviews on Chamberlain, whose fastball had been clocked in the mid-90s.
"The report we got on him yesterday was he's continued to improve," Girardi said Monday. "His command has gotten better, his breaking balls have gotten sharper. I think that's the important thing. ... His stuff was pretty good yesterday."
Girardi expects Chamberlain to be available for multiple innings and possibly 30-40 pitches on Wednesday against Baltimore.
Chamberlain was asked if he needed to be "eased back" into his role.
"I don't think there's any easing. It's gonna be all-go, and that's the way I want it," he replied. "I don't want I dare to even say any 'Joba Rules.' I don't want any of that. I just wanna go and give them 30-40 pitches."
Mike Mazzeo is a regular contributor to ESPNNewYork.com.