Joba Chamberlain excited for his first inning

New York Yankees pitcher Joba Chamberlain, right, signs New York Yankees pitcher Joba Chamberlain, right, signs autographs for fans before the start of a baseball game against the Tampa Bay Rays. (July 2, 2012) Photo Credit: AP

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TAMPA, Fla. -- Joba Chamberlain has reached the final phase in his comeback from elbow and ankle injuries.

The Yankees reliever is scheduled to pitch in a game for the first time Tuesday, a one-inning stint against Pittsburgh minor-leaguers in a rookie-level Gulf Coast League game in Bradenton.

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"I'm just thankful to have the opportunity, obviously, to get into a game," he said Monday after throwing on level ground at the team's minor-league complex. "That's a huge step. I'm pretty excited to put the uniform on, strap it up with these young kids and get out there."

The beginning of Chamberlain's rehab assignment sets him up to rejoin the Yankees in about a month. Tuesday's game at the Pirates' spring training complex is at 10 a.m.

"Another early morning, so we're keeping the spring training schedule we've got working," Chamberlain said. "It's funny how this game of life works; it's funny how this game of baseball works. My first-ever appearance as a Yankee was in Bradenton. So it's pretty cool for me to understand . . . everything goes in a circle. My second chance, and it all starts in Bradenton, again. Everything happens for a reason."

Chamberlain went 2-0 with a 2.83 ERA in 27 relief outings last season before having Tommy John elbow ligament surgery June 16, 2011. Ahead of schedule in his rehab, he suffered an open dislocation of his right ankle while bouncing on a trampoline with his son March 22. "Thank God we haven't had any setbacks,'' Chamberlain said, "and now we get the opportunity to actually strap on the jersey."

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After feeling discomfort in his surgically repaired right elbow, reliever David Aardsma said he still is awaiting word from Dr. Lewis Yocum, who is reviewing test results. Yocum performed Tommy John surgery on Aardsma last July. Aardsma, who pitched three times in GCL games before the setback, has been shut down from throwing for a little less than two weeks.

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