Joba Chamberlain sharp again but might make one more rehab appearance

Joba Chamberlain watches the Yankees play the Joba Chamberlain watches the Yankees play the Red Sox from the Yankees dugout. (July 28, 2012) Photo Credit: David Pokress

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TRENTON -- Joba Chamberlain took another positive step in his return to the Yankees, but he might not rejoin the big club just yet.

In his seventh rehab appearance on his way back from Tommy John surgery and a dislocated ankle, Chamberlain was sharp Sunday night, striking out three in 11/3 scoreless innings. But before the game against the Red Sox in the Bronx, Joe Girardi said Chamberlain might make one more outing in Trenton before he returns to the Yankees. The Thunder is off Monday but opens a three-game home set Tuesday.

When Chamberlain was asked about Girardi's comments, he said: "You're asking the wrong guy. I don't make any decisions. I go out and pitch."

Chamberlain, who struck out the side in the eighth, picked up his first minor-league victory since 2007 when the Double-A Thunder rallied for three runs in the bottom of the eighth for a 3-2 win over the Harrisburg Senators, a Washington Nationals affiliate.

Chamberlain threw 30 pitches, 23 for strikes, and his fastball topped out at 97 mph. Only three of the strikes were swings-and-misses, but one was on a nasty 3-and-2 slider in the dirt. The only hit he allowed was a leadoff single up the middle in the eighth.

"Obviously, the physical part is over. Now it's the mental part, and that's the hardest thing,'' Chamberlain said. "Knowing I could throw everything with conviction was the least of my concerns. It was just getting in the pace of the game . . . Without a doubt in my mind, I feel I can go get guys out and help us in the big leagues.''

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Chamberlain entered with two outs and none on in the seventh. The plan was to bring him in with runners on base, but the final batter faced by Shaeffer Hall lined into a double play.

Chamberlain had a 1-and-2 count on his first batter, James Skelton, but leftfielder Rob Segedin misplayed a fly ball for an error, allowing Skelton to reach second. Chamberlain ended the inning with a flyout to right.

Zach Walters, who singled in the eighth, stole second but was stranded after Chamberlain struck out the next three hitters.

Chamberlain, 26, last pitched in a major-league game June 5, 2011. He has allowed one earned run, a solo homer, and struck out 10 in 91/3 innings in his seven rehab appearances.

With Erik Boland

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