CHICAGO -- The Yankees have tried to ease Joba Chamberlain back into duty as a big league reliever, but keeping the right-hander out of tight situations has proven more challenging than expected.
"We tried to stay away from him, that's the bottom line," manager Joe Girardi said. "At times, you're not going to be able to. At times, you're forced into situations and it's usually when you don't get the distance from your starter that you need."
The early results from Chamberlain, who missed 14 months following Tommy John surgery on his right elbow and an open dislocation of his right ankle, have not been pretty. Chamberlain has a 9.45 ERA in seven appearances for New York this season and has permitted 15 hits and four walks in 6 2/3 innings, posting a 2.85 WHIP.
"I knew I needed to stay focused to get back to where I needed to be -- that was it," Chamberlain said. "Obviously, this isn't the way I wanted things to go, but if things were perfect after I got done with surgery, I would've gone, 'This is easy.' But it's not that way. These guys are good. They're in the big leagues for a reason, and you've got to figure out a way to get better."
Girardi said that he believes Chamberlain is struggling with his command after undergoing the elbow surgery, but he believes Chamberlain's stuff is good enough to get big league hitters out. Chamberlain is also encouraged by that.
"If I was throwing 90 mph, we would have a concern," Chamberlain said. "My slider is 86-88, right where it should be. My fastball is at 95. You know it's there; now, it's just trying to figure out what in the delivery or what we can do to change things or work on in between and go from there."
It is possible the Yankees could consider optioning Chamberlain to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre when CC Sabathia is activated from the disabled list for a likely start on Friday, then recall the reliever after rosters expand to 40 players on Sept. 1, but Girardi said those discussions have not taken place.