Thursday, June 14, 2012
TAMPA — Joba Chamberlain is just dying to get a look at the radar-gun readings. No one will let him see them.
“I don’t know if it’s a good thing or a bad thing,” the righthander told the Daily News Wednesday after throwing on flat ground with the Yanks’ pitching guru, Billy Connors. “I know how it feels. It’s coming out good. It feels great. Velocity-wise, I couldn’t tell you how hard.”
The only hint that he’s throwing major league hard are the looks on the faces of the coaches and catcher who have been working with him at the team’s minor league complex the past several weeks — and he likes their reaction.
The one-time phenom, who suffered a freak, open ankle dislocation in March playing on a trampoline with his son, is working his way back to the Yankees. He believes he is 2-3 weeks away from going on a minor league rehab assignment and envisions himself becoming a valued reliever for the Yankees in the second half of the season.
Getting Joba back would be a boost to a bullpen that’s lost the best closer of all time. As much as people like Cody Eppley and Clay Rapada have contributed so far, counting on them in high leverage situations over the long haul seems like a strategy that’s fraught with peril. Should Chamberlain and David Aardsma be able to pitch effectively in the second half, the Yankees should have enough options to prevent them from overworking David Robertson and/or Rafael Soriano.
I’ll be amazed if Chamberlain’s back before August, but that seems like a realistic possibility.
I’m hoping his stuff looks good enough that the Yankees would re-visit the notion of him as a starting pitcher in 2013, but at this point I’ll settle for another good reliever in the pen.
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