Chamberlain sustains serious ankle dislocation
Yankees reliever undergoes surgery, could be out for season
TAMPA, Fla. -- Yankees right-hander Joba Chamberlain underwent surgery Thursday night for an open dislocation in his right ankle, halting his quick rehab from Tommy John surgery and potentially ending his season before it even began.
Chamberlain was jumping on a trampoline with his son, Karter, somewhere in the Tampa area when the accident occurred. Yankees general manager Brian Cashman, who announced Chamberlain's injury early Friday morning, and manager Joe Girardi, who visited with his pitcher in the hospital, were not aware of all the details of the injury or how it occurred.
But both acknowledged that it was a significant injury, as an open dislocation is one in which the bone protrudes from the skin. And both were equally concerned about Chamberlain's peace of mind as he deals with another serious injury.
Chamberlain was rushed to St. Joseph's Hospital on Thursday night and will remain there for "at least a number of days," Cashman said. The 26-year-old reliever, who hasn't pitched since June 5 as he worked his way back from Tommy John surgery, was aiming for a midseason return and, by all accounts, was progressing extremely well in his rehab. His latest injury will certainly push back his return date, though it's difficult to say how far at this point.
"When I think about Joba, I think about a tough kid that has an extremely high pain threshold. Extremely strong," said Girardi, who spent about 30 minutes with Chamberlain on Friday morning. "I think I was worried more about his heart and his mind more than anything else. I believe his body's going to heal. The body's meant to heal. But you worry about what a guy's going through.
"What he's going through is very difficult. You work your rear end off for nine months and you get real close to doing what you want to do again, then you have a setback. It's crushing for him. My heart goes out to him. We're behind him, we're going to take care of him, we'll get him back. Right now, he's going through a hard time."
Cashman said he would visit Chamberlain later Friday, after he underwent an MRI and CT scan. Girardi said Chamberlain was emotional and disappointed, as expected, both for himself and for the team. Adding to the disappointment of the injury was just how well Chamberlain had progressed in his recovery from Tommy John surgery and how hard he had worked to get to that point.
Girardi said the club would be there for Chamberlain, and Derek Jeter echoed that sentiment, saying he had already reached out to his teammate.
"I feel extremely bad for him," Jeter said. "He's worked hard to get his arm back in shape, and it seems as though he was ahead of schedule in that, and that's because he worked extremely hard at it. To have something like this, a fluke accident, I feel really bad for him."
When asked if it was a career-threatening injury, Cashman replied, "I'd like to say no. My heart and gut tells me no." Girardi was more confident, stating that the Yankees would get him back at some point.
But neither could guarantee that Chamberlain wouldn't be sidelined for all of 2012. Given how unique the injury is and how recently Chamberlain entered the hospital, Cashman said he didn't have much previous experience or new information to work off.
After seeing his relatively speedy recovery, the Yankees had planned on adding Chamberlain's power arm to their bullpen around June. Girardi was comfortable saying that was no longer a conceivable option.
"He's out of it for a little bit. June is not a realistic date," Girardi said. "When we get him, we get him. He'll be back."
Cashman and Girardi declined to discuss whether Chamberlain's accident fits the description of an acceptable off-the-field injury under his contract. Instead, they focused on helping Chamberlain get through the psychological and emotional struggles he'll likely face in the coming months.
Chamberlain was in a soft cast when Girardi visited the hospital, and he will have to worry about potential infections where the bone broke through the skin and caused bleeding. Due to the nature of the injury, it will also likely be in his best interest to stay in the hospital and avoid moving for quite some time.
"I feel bad because I know how much he loves this game, and I know how much he was looking forward to coming back ahead of schedule," Cashman said. "This is just an unfortunate accident that's clearly derailed that. What more does this mean? I don't know.
"From a team standpoint, it's a massive loss because he's really good. But right now, the most important thing is not what it means to the team. It's really what it means to him personally for the present and the future. Right now, I don't have any answers for any of it."