Joba Chamberlain '100 percent' and ready to go

01/23/2013 10:09 AM ET
By Jon Lane

Joba Chamberlain was 1-0 with a 4.35 ERA in 22 appearances last season.(AP)
While the New York Yankees have been relatively quiet this offseason, among the players they are returning is reliever Joba Chamberlain. On Tuesday night at the Baseball Assistance Team's 24th annual Go to Bat for B.A.T. fundraising dinner at the Marriott Marquis, Chamberlain was presented the Bart Giamatti humanitarian Award, and proclaimed himself “100 percent healthy” and recovered from Tommy John surgery.

"One hundred percent, right now everything's good, throwing curveballs and sliders, and just continuing to get stronger," Chamberlain said. "It's been great. It's one of those things where you're able to just focus on what you've done. You go back to where you're healthy and what worked and what you did during your rehab to make your shoulder stronger, your elbow work. You just put it all together. It's been a good offseason."

Ready and raring to go for Spring Training, Chamberlain will be getting re-acquainted with a new teammate. The Yankees signed Kevin Youkilis to a one-year $12 million deal to fill in at third base while Alex Rodriguez recovers from hip surgery. Among the notable subplots of the Youkilis acquisition is the history between him and Chamberlain. In 2007, Chamberlain was suspended for two games for throwing consecutive 98-mph fastballs over Youkilis’ head. The following season, Chamberlain threw at Youkilis again, this time behind his legs, and Youkilis took several steps towards the mound.

Chamberlain left a voice mail for Youkilis welcoming him to the Yankees, but the call has not yet been returned. The right-hander, though, wasn’t concerned, stating he will “hug it out” and go forward.

"I did everything I can do," Chamberlain said. "I can't control what Kevin Youkilis does. I can only control what I can do.

"He's obviously won before. He knows how to win. He's played in a market where he understands what's going to happen, so I don't think there's anything that's going to catch him off-guard, in terms of seeing you guys all the time and answering those questions. That's part of coming here to play. Just to be able to have him on our side, he's a big addition, obviously can play third base, can play first, DH, hits to all parts of the field. It'll be nice having him on our side, for sure."

Chamberlain, who pitched two months of the 2012 season after coming back from Tommy John surgery, agreed to a one-year contract for $1.875 million last Friday to avoid arbitration. He will be counted on with David Robertson and David Aardsma to fortify the bridge to closer Mariano Rivera – himself recovered from a torn ACL suffered last May – especially in light of Rafael Soriano (42 saves in 2012) signing with the Washington Nationals.

"In Spring Training, you have a lot of guys who are capable of doing a lot of things in that bullpen," Chamberlain said. "Hopefully Mo comes back and his knee does what he wants it to do, and for us that makes us an unbelievable ballclub, with him on the back end. There are also other guys in there who can step up. We're gonna have to, obviously. There's going to have to be a seventh-, eighth-inning guy who can continue to fight and claw for that hole and get after it." 

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