NEW YORK -- The oversized, pinstriped greeting card dropped off at Joba Chamberlain's locker summed up the general message the Yankees hope to deliver: "Get Well Soon, Joba."
In news that should delight the well-wishers, the children of the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, their 22-year-old friend is moving closer to a return with the Yankees.
Chamberlain threw a 35-pitch bullpen session on Monday in an empty Yankee Stadium under the supervision of pitching coach Dave Eiland. He is scheduled to ramp up to 45 pitches on Thursday, and said he has started throwing harder just to see how his arm responds.
"It felt better than last time as far as strength-wise," Chamberlain said of Monday's session. "Playing catch, you let a couple go, [and] I let a couple go in the bullpen."
Chamberlain has been on the disabled list since leaving an Aug. 4 start at Texas with what the Yankees announced was right rotator cuff tendinitis. He has worked on a program with head trainer Gene Monahan, and tossed his full complement of pitches.
"It felt good," Chamberlain said. "I wasn't crossing anything up."
The timing of Chamberlain's injury leaves uncertainty as to whether he will be able to accept a Minor League rehabilitation assignment, or even if the club believes he will require one.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi said that the organization had options of where they could send Chamberlain. Both the Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees and Double-A Trenton Thunder have qualified for postseason play, and could provide game situations for Chamberlain to work toward a big league return.
"We're just taking it a day at a time," Girardi said. "Obviously, Triple-A is going to be in the playoffs and Double-A is going to be in the playoffs. There is time if we feel that that's the right thing to do. I'm not saying that's what we're going to do, I'm just saying we're going to take it a day at a time like we have through this whole process."
Chamberlain is 4-3 with a 2.63 ERA in 32 games for New York this season, including faring 3-1 with a 2.76 ERA in 12 starts. Girardi said that the Yankees -- who open a crucial three-game series with the Red Sox on Tuesday in the Bronx -- have larger concerns than where Chamberlain could be throwing come September.
"We're coming off an injury, and I don't want this to be the focus of the series, exactly what we're going to do with Joba," Girardi said. "We'll make decisions after he throws on Thursday and decide what the next best step is for him."
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.