Joba Chamberlain was a sight for sore eyes.
Watching Joba standing on the Yankee Stadium mound yesterday warmed my heart. He didn’t pitch particularly well, which was to be expected given his long pitching layoff and the jumble of emotions he must have been feeling. Not that it really mattered how he pitched. Just seeing him on the mound was a testament to his perseverance.
His manager Joe Girardi talked about how he never had any doubt that Joba, a famously quick healer who didn’t even feel his elbow coming apart before his Tommy John surgery, would pitch again this year, even after the grotesque ankle injury. I genuinely believed Girardi when he said that, not always the case to be honest. I had been following Joba’s recovery as closely as possible and his determination to return to the pitching mound and prove all the doubters who said his career was over wrong was evident. Not only did he heal more quickly than expected, he was lighting up the radar gun during his rehab assignments and I have no doubt that he will be lighting up the Yankee Stadium gun once he gets comfortable again.
Despite his rough first outing, the New York Yankees are confident that he can solidify the bullpen, much as he had done last year before his unexpected and unfortunate elbow injury. They are so confident in Joba that Brian Cashman felt comfortable trading away Chad Qualls for some bench help before Tuesday’s deadline. The Yankees, overly cautious in their handling of Joba at times, were so sure that he was healthy that they called him back up to the big club rather than sending him to Trenton for a scheduled rehab assignment, no doubt disappointing a lot of New Jersey-based Yankee fans hoping for a glimpse of Joba.
But it was a thrill watching him pitch in a big-league game again, something a lot of people suspected he would never do, even if Joba himself never doubted it for a second.