A slim-looking Joba Chamberlain proclaimed himself ready for spring training yesterday as he mingled with fans at Yankee Stadium and accepted donations for victims of superstorm Sandy.
Chamberlain is finally ahead of schedule. No injuries to monitor, no specific rehabilitation to follow after two surgeries, first Tommy John, then the second for an open dislocation of his ankle suffered in a trampoline accident last March.
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He is looking to build off the postseason, where he was unscored upon in four appearances.
"Obviously, it didn't go the way I wanted it to the first few weeks," he said of his return in August. "It [playoffs] didn't end the way we wanted it to, but to know how I finished, just to have that ability to do that, I'm just looking forward to going out there and not having to worry about anything."
Chamberlain did not say how much he trimmed from his listed weight of 250 pounds.
At 27, Chamberlain seems poised to be a major player in the bullpen. But even with Rafael Soriano presumably on the way out, Chamberlain does not necessarily foresee an expanded role. Mariano Rivera is expected back to close, Boone Logan and David Robertson form the bridge to Rivera. Chamberlain said he would settle for a plank, though free agency looms after the 2013 season and Chamberlain has signed on with new representation. And there's no doubt trade rumors will abound.
"It doesn't matter if you're pitching in the fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth or ninth," he said. "Our bullpen has been great."
The debate of whether Chamberlain would start or relieve is over. He will not start and, barring injury to others, is not considered an heir to Rivera's throne of closing. "I would like to be a great teammate," he said. "A guy they know they can count on every time."