Joba Chamberlain: I could get MLB hitters out 'right now'
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Joba Chamberlain was blunt, as usual.
"I 100 percent believe I could get big-league hitters out right now," Chamberlain said Monday morning after throwing batting practice at the Yankees' minor-league complex. "And that's half the battle, being able to say you can do it, and we're over that hump."
Chamberlain said he expects to be pitching in a rehab game "definitely within two weeks." If he does that and has no setbacks, that would have him on pace for a return to the big leagues around early August.
It was the third time Chamberlain has thrown batting practice in his rehab since he dislocated his right ankle March 22 in a trampoline accident, and he had a bigger audience than usual watching.
With the Yankees starting a series Monday night in nearby St. Petersburg against the Rays, manager Joe Girardi, pitching coach Larry Rothschild, bullpen coach Mike Harkey and trainer Steve Donohue kept a close eye as Chamberlain threw two sets of 20 pitches.
Chamberlain joined the team later in the day at Tropicana Field.
"I thought he did real well," Rothschild said before the game. "He was throwing the ball easy, it came out well. The breaking ball, everything. The delivery was real good . . . You would have no idea, if you didn't know what had happened."
"I felt like today was my best day overall as far as just feeling really good," said Chamberlain, who is scheduled to pitch in a simulated game Friday. "As far as that went, slowing the game down and being able to pitch to the count, I thought today was really, really good."
Chamberlain said that after each step in his rehab -- pitching off a half-mound, then a full mound, then BP -- he hasn't felt pain or unusual soreness.
"Everybody asks, what are you rehabbing?" Chamberlain said. "Now I'm not really rehabbing anything. Everything's good. We've got the ankle taken care of, the ankle's fine, and the elbow's obviously great. We just have to continue to maintain those two good feelings and get back into some games."
Notes & quotes:Reliever Chad Qualls, who was acquired Sunday from the Phillies, retired both batters he faced in the eighth inning Monday night. Cory Wade, who has struggled, was optioned to Triple-A, to "get his stuff right," Girardi said . . . Catcher Austin Romine, who has been sidelined since mid-February with a lower-back problem, said, "I'm full," meaning he's hitting, running, throwing and catching bullpen sessions. He expects to begin rehab games in about two weeks . . . Reliever Pedro Feliciano, rehabbing after left shoulder surgery, said he will throw a bullpen session Tuesday at Tropicana Field and that he could throw batting practice next week.