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Joba meets Yankees in Baltimore

Joba meets Yankees in Baltimore

BALTIMORE -- Joba Chamberlain returned to the Yankees on Saturday from Lincoln, Neb., where he had been monitoring his father's recovery from a critical medical condition.

The second batter he faced in a scoreless eighth inning of relief, Nick Markakis, hit a sharp comebacker through the box. Chamberlain, looking more nimble than your average 6-foot-2, 230-pounder, stuck out his right leg to block the bouncer, grabbed the loose ball and easily threw out Markakis.

"Kick save and a beauty, wasn't it?" the right-hander joked after the game. "It was kind of reactionary. I was glad I got it and got the out."

The inning of work, Chamberlain's first since learning that Harlan Chamberlain, 55, had fallen critically ill on April 10, capped a whirlwind day for the 22-year-old. He hopped an early-afternoon flight out of Lincoln less than 24 hours after his father was removed fro a ventilator and began breathing on his own, and he arrived at Camden Yards before game time.

"What a day," Chamberlain said. "I went to the hospital this morning, got on a flight and came here, got right in my uniform and then went right to be bullpen to get work. ... It's easy when you strap it on, put your hat on and get back to work."

Chamberlain struck out Melvin Mora on a 98-mph fastball to start the eighth, then corralled the Markakis grounder for the second out. After missing on a 3-2 pitch and walking Kevin Millar, Chamberlain rebounded to fan Luke Scott swinging on an 85-mph slider.

"My mechanics were a little bit out of whack, but my arm felt good," said Chamberlain, who threw two side sessions after being placed on the bereavement list on Monday. "I made sure to try to get away from the hospital when I was home and worked with my bullpen catcher there, so it was good."

The return may have had cathartic overtones, but Chamberlain said he was just doing what his father would have wanted.

"It's your family, it's your dad and it's hard to block out sometimes, but he'd want it that way," Chamberlain said. "He wouldn't want me to worry about him. He'd want me to do my job."

Yankees manager Joe Girardi welcomed Chamberlain back to an overtaxed bullpen.

"He's excited to be back, and probably the best news is that just means his father's doing better, and that's what we want," the manager said.

To accommodate Chamberlain's return to the Major League roster, the Yankees optioned right-hander Edwar Ramirez to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

Harlan Chamberlain has a long history of health problems, and a childhood case of polio left him partially paralyzed. He relies on a motorized scooter for transportation. He and his son are very close and speak on a daily basis during the season.

Pete Kerzel is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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