TAMPA, Fla. -- Joba Chamberlain graduated from being a self-proclaimed "half-mound All-Star" to throwing off a full mound for the first time, another checkpoint in his recovery from Tommy John surgery last year.
Chamberlain threw 10 pitches off flat ground then 16 from the mound early Tuesday morning. He had been throwing off a half-mound since Feb. 3, and while he admitted his legs grew tired after 10 pitches and he's still a long way away from pitching in a Major League game, he was no less excited about his progress.
"It was great to be able to just get up there and trust my arm and trust the work that I've put in to this point," Chamberlain said. "Just to let it go, it's free and easy, and there was really minimal effort to get it over there."
Asked if he felt like he had a whole new arm after the operation and rehab, Chamberlain responded, "Yeah, it really is in the whole realm of things. They fixed what was there, and then Dr. [James] Andrews went ahead and added some extra strength to it. It's a new arm for me. That's how I feel. It's a new year and a whole new chapter of what I would like to accomplish here to help this team."
Chamberlain initially claimed "it's not going to be three or four months" before he's back in a Major League game, then backed off that statement a bit, knowing that timeframe accounts for any setbacks that may occur during his rehab. When asked if he'd allowed himself to think about when he could be back if everything goes perfectly, Chamberlain said he would "do a Mo," referring to Mariano Rivera's unspoken decision regarding his retirement.
"I know the answer, but I'm not going to tell you guys. Yeah, I have it in mind," Chamberlain said. "I know the work I've put in, and like I said, three or four months can be realistic. But also on the other hand, it can be realistic on the front side of things."
Chamberlain said he would likely throw 15 to 20 fastballs Friday and add curveballs and sliders into the mix after that, but the most immediate test will be seeing how his arm feels Wednesday. He confessed it has been difficult to sit back and watch the team go on without him since June, but the Yankees could stand to profit from a healthy, productive Chamberlain whenever he returns this year.
"Thinking about the depth that we could have in our bullpen if everyone stays healthy and competes at the level that we expect them to compete, it is pretty exciting," manager Joe Girardi said.