By Jon Heyman
The Yankees have no real expectation that Joba Chamberlain will pitch again this year, due to his freak ankle injury, despite a couple slightly more encouraging public comments the past couple days. His gruesome injury is severe enough that one person familair with the case wondered aloud whether Chamberlain’s absence could seven extend into the 2013 season, as well, though the Yankees haven’t suggested anything like that publicly.
Chamberlain will need to remain in a cast for six weeks then a boot for another six after suffering an open dislocation of his right ankle at the kids’ place while jumping on the trampoline and misstepping. Chamberlain had surgery Thursday, but several complications remain, including his rehab from Tommy John surgery last summer being affected by his inability to throw in coming weeks. Another concern is that his right ankle is his push-off ankle.
The Yankees had previously spoken about Chamberlain returning this summer, but realistically, that was always a long shot. There are a lot of unknowns with such a rare injury for a baseball player, but there seems be little to no thought that this year is possible — though, they won’t rule it out. Yankees GM Brian Cashman said by phone, “If everything goes right, it’s possible.”
Agents wonder whether the Yankees might consider releasing Chamberlain to save a good portion of the $1.8-million salary of his non-guaranteed contract. But Yankees people have said privately and publicly that Chamberlain’s health is their foremost concern, suggesting a release isn’t on their radar.
“That’s not something we’re contemplating at this point,” Yankees GM Brian Cashman said. They would need to release Chamberlain by March 30 to recover a significant portion of his contract.
“We’re behind him. We’re going to take care of him, we’ll get him back. But right now he’s going through a hard time,” manager Joe Girardi told writers in Tampa.
“I just feel bad for him as an individual, as a member of our family,” Cashman added. “We care a great deal about him and we’re just right now going to be there (for him).”