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Joba Chamberlain likely out for season with torn elbow ligament

Yankees pitcher Joba Chamberlain throws against the Rays.

Yankees pitcher Joba Chamberlain throws against the Rays. (May 16, 2011) Credit: Getty Images

Yankees manager Joe Girardi delivered the news at his press gathering before Thursday night’s game with the Red Sox: Joba Chamberlain is probably headed for season-ending Tommy John surgery.

What started out as a suspected strained flexor tendon that needed simple rest has turned into the most serious of the bullpen injuries the Yankees have incurred this year.

Considering Rafael Soriano is already set to miss up to two months with an inflamed ligament in his right elbow, the news that the Yanks had likely lost their second-best option as Mariano Rivera's setup man for the season came as nothing short of devastating. Pedro Feliciano is also on the DL nursing a left rotator cuff strain, but he has started a throwing

“I think he’s a little confused by it all,” Girardi said of Chamberlain.

Confused, perhaps, because Chamberlain never reported any severe pain when he hit the 15-day DL on Wednesday. But a dye-contrast MRI Thursday revealed the tear and the need for the extensive surgery.

"I don't know how you avoid it," Girardi said of an elbow operation.

Given the typical 12-month rehab, he might miss the start of next season, too. With Soriano and Chamberlain out, right-hander David Robertson is the next setup option. Boone Logan, Luis Ayala and Amauri Sanit are also available, though they are all inexperienced.

“There’s a lot of youth down there right now,” Girardi said. “We’ve lost some guys that have pitched at a high level. Some kids we have, have to step up for us.”

Chamberlain was 2-0 with a 2.83 ERA in 27 games. His last outing was Sunday against the Angels when he pitched 1 2/3 scoreless innings. He had been pitching with a tender arm, but there were few indications of anything more serious.

“I have no idea how it happened,” Girardi said. “He played long toss yesterday and felt nothing.”

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