Sunday, February 19, 2012

Rooting for Joba Chamberlain comeback

Heading into spring training in 2011, I wrote about how there is no member of the New York Yankees I would be rooting for more than Joba Chamberlain. The same is true again this year, but for a different reason.

Joba got dealt a bad hand last year when he was felled by a serious arm injury in the midst of a successful campaign to once again become the set-up man for Mariano Rivera. He managed to do what I thought was impossible: cast aside Rafael Soriano despite the millions of dollars the Steinbrenners wasted on Soriano’s services. Joba’s numbers reflected the fantastic year he was having (2-0, with a 2.83 ERA and 1.05 WHIP). But he also showed us a maturity that we hadn’t seen before, which was not surprising considering that he is still only 26 years old. Being in the middle of such a professional renaissance made his unexpected season-ending surgery that much more devastating.

Reports indicate that Chamberlain’s rehabilitation is progressing quite well so perhaps we will see him back on the mound mid-season. Of course, he will need time to find his groove again. But if he can do that, the Yankees already strong bullpen could become an unstoppable force.  

Something good did come out of Joba’s injury since it allowed the baseball world (and the Yankees themselves) to see what David Robertson could do in that job. But I hate to see any player lose his job because of an injury, especially one that may have been preventable if the Yankees hadn’t shifted Joba back and forth from the bullpen to the rotation and back again.  

But that’s all in the past. I will look forward to the future and hope that Joba can once again be the pitcher that had all of New York buzzing about his promise. 

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