In Sunday's 4-3 loss to the A's, Chapman tossed a 1-2-3 eighth inning with one strikeout. He only needed eight pitches, with his seven fastballs averaging 100.7 mph, according to Statcast™.
"It's big," manager Joe Girardi said of Chapman's return. "He said he was rusty, but he looked pretty good to me today. It's a big power arm to have back and it lengthens our bullpen."
"I would say that Joe and I had the same thing in mind," Chapman said after the game. "The last couple outings were a little shaky as far as location goes. But once I got out there, everything felt good and felt normal."
Chapman had spent a month on the DL with left shoulder rotator cuff inflammation. The Yankees optioned catcher Kyle Higashioka to make room. Girardi was happy to see Chapman back, especially as the Yankees entered Sunday having lost a season-high five straight games and had watched players get hurt seemingly daily on their West Coast road trip.
"Yeah, that is nice, because we haven't had a lot," Girardi said. "You look at [Saturday] and Matt Holliday, and his face blows up from something he ate. That's kind of par for the course. The bridge was closed on the way over. That's just kind of way the trip's went."
Girardi said he's heard from a few people questioning why the Yankees would fly Chapman across the country for one game, but he felt the club was making the right call. The Yanks have an off-day Monday before opening a series Tuesday at Yankee Stadium against the Angels.
"How many divisions have been lost by one game in the course of history? How many playoff spots have not been guaranteed because of one game?" Girardi said. "Yeah, it's not ideal to be all the way out here. Yeah, I get that. But he had a travel day where he didn't play. All our other players had a travel day where they played that day. If you got people available that are the best, you want him here."
Chapman said he watched the team play in Anaheim and Oakland and while he possibly could have had another rehab appearance, he wanted to get out to Oakland to help the team and the bullpen, which has struggled recently.
"It's tough to see that you're not there to help," Chapman said. "Because that's what you want to do, you want to help your team. To watch from afar, it's tough."
Girardi feels that the bullpen is finally getting "back in order," adding, "We've just been kind of out or sorts with our bullpen. I think this is as close as we've been back to sorts. Yeah, you're still missing [Adam Warren], but you get Chapman back, which helps. That's the biggest thing to me."
• Outfielder Aaron Hicks (Achilles) was unavailable Sunday. He was pulled from Thursday's game and has not played since.
• Catcher Gary Sanchez (muscle tightness in the groin area) was back in the starting lineup for the first time since being pulled in the ninth inning Thursday. Sanchez, who pinch-hit Saturday, went 0-for-4 in the series finale.