From George A. King III:
Joba Chamberlain is about to take the biggest step of his minor league rehab program and move closer to returning to the big leagues.
After throwing one inning for the Yankees’ team in the Gulf Coast League Tuesday, the plan calls for Chamberlain to pitch two frames for Single-A Tampa on Friday in Bradenton.
Chamberlain fanned two of the three Phillies’ low-level batters he faced, averaged 95 to 96 mph with the fastball and was clocked at 98.
The Yankees are monitoring what relievers will be available at the July 31 trade deadline. Nevertheless, if Chamberlain continues to progress at the rate he has through three Gulf Coast League outings, the Yankees might have a better arm to add than anyone on the market without having to give anything up.
Chamberlain is coming back from Tommy John surgery last summer and ankle surgery this past March.
“We are encouraged and it seems like we are getting through this,’’ manager Joe Girardi said of Chamberlain, whose 30-day rehab assignment ends Aug. 8. “It shouldn’t be a real long time.’’
Joba still needs to get over a few hurdles--pitching on back-to-back days and shortening the amount of days off in between appearances--but with the velocity where it is and Joba apparently suffering no discomfort, I wouldn't be too concerned about those hurdles.