Joba: Surgery a blessing

Joba Chamberlain threw 35 pitches this morning, 10 off the grass and another 25 off that oddity known as the "half-mound,'' in his so-far, so-smooth recovery from Tommy John surgery last June.

"This injury was the greatest thing that could have happened to me,'' he said. "I was able to see my son's (Karter) first day of school. There’s no amount of money, no world championships that can compare to watching my son walk into school for the first time. There’s no way I would have been able to to do that if it wasn't for the surgery.''

To hear Joba tell it, the experience of having Tommy John surgery has been nothing but pleasant. He maintains he had no pain when the injury was discovered following three of his best outings of the season on a West Coast swing through Seattle, Oakland and LA.

"I had a little tightness and they told me to go for an MRI,'' he said. "I do what I'm told. And when you're a pitcher they MRI everything.''

Chamberlain also says he hasn't had a moment of stiffness or soreness at any step of his recovery, which is scheduled to progress to throwing off a full mound sometime in the next week to 10 days. "Haven't even had a hiccup,'' he said.

Chamberlain spent three months rehabbing at the Pensacola clinic of Dr. James Andrews. This morning, he looked fluid and appeared to be throwing hard, although there was no radar gun on him. He has yet to throw a breaking ball and is not expected to spin the baseball for several more weeks. The customary recovery period after TJ is at least a year, which places Chamberlain's return at late June, or more likely, after the All-Star break.