TAMPA, Fla. — An emotional Joba Chamberlain spoke with reporters for just less than 14 minutes on Tuesday, his first time since suffering a serious ankle injury while playing with his five-year-old son, Karter, last Thursday.
The New York Yankees pitcher was asked to explain exactly what happened at the children’s play facility they were at, where the entire floor is made up of trampolines.
“I didn’t fall off anything,” Chamblerlain said. “I just went to take off — I was jumping from one to the other, because it’s like big rectangles, and that’s it. I went to jump, and Karter was right behind me, and I jumped, and I felt something go.
“As soon as I landed, not unconsciously, I grabbed my leg and then I looked and I was like, ‘Oh, that’s not the way it should be facing.'”
I didn’t lose a lot of blood, contrary to what people wrote and what people read. It wasn’t life-threatening. I wasn’t planning on losing my foot.
— Joba Chamberlain on his injury
However, Chamberlain vehemently denied reports he suffered significant blood loss, and that his life was ever in danger.
“I didn’t lose a lot of blood, contrary to what people wrote and what people read,” Chamberlain said. “It wasn’t life-threatening. I wasn’t planning on losing my foot. That was it.”
“I knew there wasn’t a lot (of information) that you guys had out there when it happened. But it’s one of those things that bothers me, too, that people are calling me and asking if it’s life-threatening and if I’m gonna lose my foot.
“I know there wasn’t a lot out there, I get that. But also, on the other hand, you’ve gotta put yourself in my situation, if that was you and your family was out there.”
Chamberlain said there were only four people in the facility at the time — himself, his son, his friend Todd, and the person in charge. His friend kept his son busy, while Chamberlain laid on a trampoline, made phone calls, and waited for the paramedics to arrive. Chamberlain said he remained calm, and even had to calm down the proprietor of the business.
“It wasn’t that painful,” he said. “As much as people probably say I’m lying, it really wasn’t.”
Chamberlain’s son was not hurt. The boy began kindergarten last year, and Chamberlain often tweets about how proud he is of his son’s hockey interest.
“Actually, I think my son is the best (handling it) out of everybody,” Chamberlain said. “One of the nurses came in, a new one and asked what happened and before I can get anything out, he said, ‘My dad got hosed by a trampoline.’ He was fine. He asked a lot of questions.”
The technical term for Chamberlain’s injury is an open dislocation of the subtalar joint in his right foot. After speaking with both Chamberlain and a team doctor after the news conference, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman met with reporters to clarify the exact nature of the injury.
“He had no fracture, he had no bones fractured or stuff like that,” Cashman said. “But there was exposed bone and stuff like that from his heel, because the skin got compromised.”
With this injury, there is a big danger of infection, especially in the first few days after the incident. But so far that has not been an issue for Chamberlain, who was released from the hospital on Sunday after having surgery on the ankle Thursday.
He is expected to be in a non-weight bearing cast for six weeks. There is no timetable for his return to a mound.
“No one can tell you whether he’ll pitch this year or not yet,” Cashman said. “There’s a chance he can, and there’s a chance he might not.
“Could he be back as soon as this year? Yes. Could he be back next year? Yes. Is this something that could be a real issue for him going forward if he never gets back? Yes. … But I’m optimistic that the best-case scenario will work out and he’ll pitch for us again this year. But that’s just my heart and my gut; I don’t have anything else to go off of.”
Chamberlain is optimistic he will pitch this season.
“Obviously, there’s a lot of things that are gonna have to happen before that,” Chamberlain said. “(But) I think there is a great chance that that is definitely going to happen.”
The 26-year-old righty, who already was recuperating from Tommy John surgery he underwent last June, tried to put a positive spin on his latest injury.
“It’s gonna give me more time to rehab,” Chamberlain said. “My arm’s gonna continue to get stronger. I’m gonna get stronger physically and mentally.”
Cashman was asked if he considered Chamberlain’s decision to go to the trampoline facility a risk, given his profession.
“For the sake of what he’s going through, I’m just gonna refuse to answer that question,” Cashman said. “He’s going through enough, and I’d rather just keep the focus from my perspective, and what’s coming out of my mouth, is, ‘What is the injury, and how we’re gonna have to deal with it, rather than the rest of that.’ ”
“This isn’t someone that after frustration punched a wall and broke his hand,” he added. “This was an accident.”
Chamberlain defended his actions, when asked if he had learned anything from the incident.
“Never question being a father,” Chamberlain said. “”I felt like I let my team down, to be perfectly honest with you, and that’s the most frustrating part. But when I looked back and realized what was going on, I will never question being a father.”
At this point, Chamberlain sighed, then paused for 15 seconds to try to control his emotions.
“This game is very important to me; it allows me to do a lot of things,” Chamberlain continued, his eyes welling up. “But my son is my pride and joy. I think that was the biggest thing. Don’t be so hard on yourself and realize what you were doing. You were trying to be a good dad.”
Said Yankees manager Joe Girardi: “His spirits seem to be picking up a little bit. He’s extremely disappointed. He had said to me, ‘I felt I kind of let you down.’ I just said, ‘Hey, we’re going to get you back out there.’ My heart still goes out to him because of what he’s went through the last 10 months and how hard he’s worked. Sometimes you can learn a lot about yourself from things like is.”
Chamberlain said he is working with the Yankees to come up with a plan for the next few weeks, and believes that everything in his life has happened for a reason, including this latest setback.
“Just another thing in the Book of Joba that’s kinda just continued to grow,” Chamberlain said. “Hopefully, there’s a few more chapters to come on the good side.”
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
Chamberlain: ‘Great chance’ I’ll pitch in 2012
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