Joba leaves Yanks to be with father
Elder Chamberlain in critical condition after collapsing
ST. PETERSBURG -- Yankees reliever Joba Chamberlain left the team after Sunday's game to tend to his ailing father and has been placed on the Major League bereavement list.
Harlan Chamberlain reportedly collapsed at his home in Lincoln, Neb., and is at St. Elizabeth Regional Medical Center in Lincoln. He is undergoing tests and is expected to continue doing so for the next several days.
"As many of you know, my family is dealing with a serious, personal medical condition involving my father Harlan," Chamberlain said in a statement released Monday by the Yankees. "He is currently in critical but stable condition. We cannot express how much we appreciate the enormous amount of love and compassion that has been shown to my family by so many."
Chamberlain learned of his father's condition after the Yankees' 8-5 loss to the Red Sox at Fenway Park. Chamberlain returned a telephone call from his sister after the game and reportedly broke down in tears in the clubhouse, where he was consoled by manager Joe Girardi.
"I also want to thank my teammates and my manager for giving me so much support when I have needed it most," Chamberlain said. "Their actions are the reason I was able to reach my father's side as quickly as I did.
"I ask that you please afford my family the privacy that it needs to deal with my father's condition appropriately. In turn, I will provide updates through the Yankees as they become available to me."
Chamberlain traveled with the Yankees to Tampa, Fla., and then flew home to Nebraska, according to teammate Phil Hughes. Chamberlain collected himself on the charter flight to Florida, Hughes said.
"He seemed fine when we got here," Hughes said. "I knew he was a little shaken up at first, but once we got here last night, he seemed fine."
Right-handed reliever Jonathan Albaladejo, who was on New York's Opening Day roster, was recalled from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to replace Chamberlain and is expected to join the team by game time on Monday. Because Chamberlain is on the bereavement list, the Yankees will be unable to activate him for at least three days.
Chamberlain and his father are extremely close, speaking by telephone on a daily basis during the season. Harlan Chamberlain has had a long history of medical problems, including polio and a burst appendix, and utilizes a motorized scooter.
The 55-year-old was in New York for the Yankees' opening homestand and attended last week's games in Kansas City, a three-hour drive from his home.
"You can see the pleasure that they get from each other," Girardi said. "Being around each other and a father watching his son play. It's a great story. It's kind of what I think America is built on, fathers playing baseball with their sons."
Chamberlain, 22, did not appear in Sunday's game. The right-hander is 1-0 with a 0.00 ERA in four games this season, allowing three hits in 5 1/3 innings while walking one and striking out six.
"He's got to take care of his dad," Girardi said. "When the time is right, he'll be back. Family comes first, take care of Pops."
In Chamberlain's absence, Girardi said that the Yankees will rely on matchups and judge which pitchers are throwing the ball well to fit the eighth-inning hole and get the ball to closer Mariano Rivera. That could include LaTroy Hawkins, Kyle Farnsworth and Brian Bruney.
"These are just the cards we're dealt right now," Girardi said. "We'll figure it out."
Additionally, Chad Moeller has been recalled from Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to help the team's catching situation. Jorge Posada has an injured shoulder that makes throwing difficult, and backup Jose Molina, who had played the past five games in Posada's place, injured his left hamstring on Sunday.
To make room for Moeller, infielder Wilson Betemit was placed on the disabled list with conjunctivitis (pink eye), which prevents him from wearing contact lenses. Girardi said Betemit had a slight case of conjunctivitis during Spring Training that got worse and was diagnosed on Monday in New York.
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.