ST. PETERSBURG -- Yankees right-hander Joba Chamberlain doesn't know how quickly he'll return to the Majors, but he's not ruling out anything and didn't hesitate to say it will be this season.
"I can promise you I'm going to pitch; I can promise you that," Chamberlain said on Monday at his locker in the visitors' clubhouse at Tropicana Field. "You can go ahead and write that down, too. Tell everybody that it's going to happen.
"We're going to take it one day at a time, but I can tell you it's going to happen soon. I don't have a date, don't have a set time, but we just continue to keep crossing stuff off the list and we're able to cross another one off today."
Chamberlain threw 40 pitches to two hitters during batting practice, then went through pitchers' fielding practice on Monday morning in Tampa, Fla., and he's set to progress to a simulated game on Friday. Yankees manager Joe Girardi watched Chamberlain pitch and reported back with positive reviews, saying the reliever's command, breaking ball and changeup all looked good.
Chamberlain has been running every day and feels no pain in the right ankle he dislocated during Spring Training, and his surgically repaired right elbow feels strong -- so strong, in fact, that he said he'd already be pitching for the Yankees if not for the ill-timed ankle injury.
"Without a doubt," Chamberlain said. "I totally forgot I even had elbow surgery, to be honest with you. I guess you just hurt another body part, and everything goes away.
"I know myself, and I know how I heal. There's going to be a lot of people that said I wasn't going to pitch. I'm fine with that. I'm OK with it. ... It's obviously not a common injury, but it's something I knew I was going to come back from."
Chamberlain was throwing from a stool about 2 1/2 weeks after the ankle injury, but he admitted that brief time off may have helped his arm after he made quick progress back from Tommy John surgery last June. Now, the hardest part of Chamberlain's recovery is staying patient.
"I think that's been the hardest part, especially because I've felt so good," Chamberlain said. "I've really had no pain from the get-go as well, just a little stiffness. The last step is obviously getting back with the ballclub, then a whole new list of things starts all over again. That's the last thing I'll cross off before I start a new list, then we'll go from there."