Harlan Chamberlain said he had considered the inevitability of a Major League pitcher being confronted with surgery long before his son, Joba, got Thursday’s news of a likely operation on his pitching arm.
The father said he had researched the so-called Tommy John procedure "out of curiosity," and that he and Joba had spoken on occasion about the sort of injury that requires it.
"He and I have talked for years," said Harlan, who sat near the Yankee dugout during batting practice before Thursday’s rain-delayed game against the Boston Red Sox, shortly after the Yankees announced that Chamberlain likely is lost for 10 to 14 months. "We didn’t talk that often, but it was always there. And we did talk about it. And it’s a reality. It’s part of the game.
"If it was going to happen, I’m glad it happened now. Get it fixed and he’ll be back, lights out."
Joba Chamberlain continued to insist that he had no pain from what first was diagnosed as a flexor strain in the forearm, just inside the elbow. The torn ligament was found after a second MRI test Thursday morning. He could still pitch with the condition, he said. "You’d have to cut my arm off to stop me from pitching. But, on the other hand, you have to realize this is your career. At 25, I’m still fairly young. So I have that on my hands."
To learn of the tear, after believing he just needed two weeks rest, "I was kind of in shock, obviously, when I heard the news," Chamberlain said. "I was just trying to get out of there as soon as I could before I broke down, which it’s pretty easy to break down in that situation. I got out of there, shed a couple of tears, you know, figured out what to do: Just gotta come back and be stronger and make myself better for it."
Neither father nor son wanted to question the over-reported "Joba Rules" employed by the Yankees when he joined the club, nor the moves from a relief role to a starting job and back. "At the time, see, I’m the new kid on the block, so I don’t know if that’s good or that’s bad," Harlan said. "But looking back on that now, there’s no reservations.
"I entrust these people in this organization with one of the two most precious things I have, which is my children. So I don’t think that anywhere along the line they would intentionally want to hurt my son….They did what they thought was best and I respect that.
"It’s all good. He’ll be fine."