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06/10/12 12:25 PM ET

Joba progressing well on road back

NEW YORK -- Joba Chamberlain's surgically repaired elbow is close to the point where the Yankees would have been thinking about his big league return, had he not suffered an ankle injury this spring.

The Yankees view it as a positive sign that Chamberlain seems to have recovered from Tommy John surgery, even though his timetable was pushed back by an open dislocation of his ankle in a March trampoline accident.

"He's always Superman," Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said. "He gets hurt; unfortunately, that's happened in his career. But he heals a lot quicker than the time frame. He breaks down and he's a super healer."

Chamberlain has been throwing and running sprints, and said in Tampa, Fla., that there is no question in his mind that he will pitch in the Major Leagues this season. Cashman wouldn't go that far, but he has been encouraged by Chamberlain's progress.

"I'm not going to guarantee it, but is it possible? Yeah," Cashman said. "He's clearing all the hurdles so far, but he's got more hurdles to go."

Pettitte's influence goes beyond his starts

NEW YORK -- It wouldn't be surprising to see the Yankees stealing a few glances toward Andy Pettitte's spot on the bench during his start on Sunday, and perhaps stifling a few chuckles.

One way or another, it seems the Yankees are always paying attention to what No. 46 is up to.

"Andy has his little quirks during his start," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "He yells sometimes, he talks to himself sometimes. It's just Andy being Andy, it's probably the best way to describe it."

As Pettitte prepared for his sixth start of the season, the Yankees had already felt an impact from the left-hander's return. He has helped them win games on the field, but pitchers such as Phil Hughes have also credited Pettitte's wisdom.

"I want to be positive," Pettitte said. "I want to be a positive impact on this team. I felt like I could be, and that's why I came back. I think the guys enjoy when I pitch. I think sometimes I'm an amusement for them also."

After Hughes' complete-game victory in Detroit last week, the right-hander revealed that Pettitte had talked to him about controlling the pace of the game, focusing and being able to relax.

"Andy is huge for our pitching staff," Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira said. "He brings a wealth of knowledge and experience. He's just a great guy. You want to be around Andy and learn from him. When he came back, everyone was just happy to see him, first of all. Then, what he does on the field and in the clubhouse is great."

Girardi said that he believes Pettitte's presence has helped to stabilize the Yankees' rotation in more ways than one.

"I think he has helped," Girardi said. "I think he has really helped our young guys understand the meaning of managing expectations. Andy has that work ethic, and preparation that's really, really good. I think guys can learn a lot from him."

Garcia back with club, Igarashi off to Triple-A

NEW YORK -- Yankees right-hander Freddy Garcia rejoined the club on Sunday after traveling to Venezuela for his grandfather's funeral.

Garcia had been placed on Major League Baseball's bereavement list on Thursday, and was available to pitch for the Yankees in Sunday's series finale against the Mets.

With Garcia's return, the Yankees optioned right-hander Ryota Igarashi to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Igarashi pitched an inning in Friday's 9-1 Yankees win, allowing a run, a hit and two walks while striking out two.

Bombers bits

• The Yankees had held the Mets to three runs or less in each of their last 10 games against them entering Sunday's contest. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, that marks the Yankees' longest stretch of that kind against any team since a 10-game streak against the Indians over the 1971 and 1972 seasons.

• Prior to Sunday's game, a group of 24 children ages 7-14 participated in the Yankees' championship of the 2012 MLB Pitch, Hit & Run program, hoping to qualify for the National Finals during All-Star Week in Kansas City. This is the program's 16th year.

• On this date in 2002, the Yankees' Marcus Thames homered off the D-backs' Randy Johnson on the first pitch he saw as a Major Leaguer. The Yankees defeat Arizona, 7-5, at the old Yankee Stadium.

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.