Yankees Manager Joe Girardi started his pregame press conference with the good news/bad news scenario and he started with the bad news. “The bad news is at some point they decided to do a contrast MRI on Joba today and he has a torn ligament,” Girardi said. “And the interesting thing about this is, if you do every strength exercise with Joba, he passes with flying colors and he has no idea when it happened.”
Joba has been a key piece to a Yankees bullpen puzzle that for the most part has been pretty impressive in 2011. The bullpen was supposed to be a strength for the Yankees coming into the season and has been just absolutely decimated by injuries. The staff has already suffered disabled list stints from Rafael Soriano and Pedro Feliciano. David Robertson is now the primary setup man for the forseeable future and the future of Joba Chamberlain is of major concern.
In 27 appearances this season, Chamberlain was 2-0 with a 2.83 ERA, while striking out 24 in 28 2/3 innings pitched. He also hasn't allowed a run in his last 9 2/3 innings, which is his last eight appearances dating back to May 16.
The odd thing about this injury is that Joba feels absolutely no pain. “When you talk about the symptoms that someone has (with a torn ligament), Joba doesn't have them,” Girardi said. He would also go on to say, “My guess is he's probably going to have to have surgery ... but i'm just guessing.”
When Joba approached the media in the clubhouse he was visibly shaken and quite emotional at first. Holding back some of his emotion, he started out by saying, “This sucks. There's no way to sugarcoat it, I guess. Just something I didn't expect, obviously, with no pain.”
An interesting thing that he went on to say was that he felt no discomfort, nor any pain when he pitched. He didn't have his best stuff in his last outing, but that was the best game he pitched all season because he wasn't relying on his stuff, he had to pitch. Joba also revealed that he would do anything to pitch, but doesn't want to hurt the team in any way. He also said that he's only 25 years old and he does not want to jeopardize his future career.
“A lot of guys who had it, feel a pop,” Joba said. “It's hard to open doors. It's hard to do certain things and nothing bothers me. That's why it's really surprising for me.” When asked later about what the schedule is from here, he said, “Send them (contrast MRI results) to Dr. Andrews and see what he says and go from there. There's really not much more we can do. Just continue to rehab here and whatever he says, go from there, see what his opinion is.”
Unfortunately, if Girardi's prediction is correct about Joba possibly undergoing Tommy John surgery, that would cost him not only the rest of this season, but it would be a full year of recovery time. This is certainly the worst case scenario for what seemed to be just a minor injury when he initially went on the disabled list.
With all of the bad news coming in for the Yankees, the good news was that Phil Hughes threw 30 pitches and Girardi told the media that he was consistently hitting 92 MPH on the radar gun, while averaging between 90-92. Next Tuesday, Hughes will make his first rehab start in the Gulf Coast League. A speedy Hughes return could really give the Yankees pitching staff a much-needed boost.
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