As expected, the Yankees recalled a right-handed relief pitcher for tonight's game against the Mariners.
As not expected, that reliever was not Joba Chamberlain, who was expected to rejoin the team after spending 15 days on the disabled list with a strained oblique. Instead, it was Dellin Betances, who until a week ago was a starter.
According to Joe Girardi, Joba "isn't quite there yet," and so it was Betances who got the call Wednesday night while he was sitting on the couch in his apartment watching an NBA playoff game.
"Honestly, I was surprised," said Betances. "I had no idea. But I was happy about it. I’m just here to help in any role. If they need me and they call my name, I’ll be ready."
Betances, a 6-foot-8 fireballer who lost his ability to throw strikes last season in AAA (he walked 99 batters last year in 131 innings), was demoted to the bullpen six days ago, the last of the vaunted Killer Bs to fall from grace. Previously, they parted ways with Andrew Brackman, and Manny Banuelos underwent Tommy John surgery.
But now, Betances is back because of the lingering injury to Chamberlain, who threw a rehab inning in AAA on Tuesday and allowed no runs and two hits.
Asked if Chamberlain was still injured or just not big-league ready, Girardi said, “"I think it’'s both. A lot of times you’'ll see where guys can actually throw or swing but you don’t feel that they’'re at 100 percent, full power. And we don’'t think he'’s quite there yet, so we’'re going to make sure he'’s ready.”"
Girardi said the decision not to activate Joba had nothing to do with his public spat with Mariano Rivera last Saturday in Kansas City. "We handled that in-house, and it's over," he said. "If it had happened between, say, Corban Joseph and David Adams, nobody would have said a word about it."
Girardi said Joba would play catch today, but that the next step in his rehab had yet to be determined.
In the meantime, Betances is here, having compiled a 3-2 record and 5.40 ERA in six starts and two relief appearances for Scranton. He said he had not been told what his specific role would be -- the Yankees sent down Brett Marshall, who had pitched 5 2/3 innings in Wednesday's 12-2 rout by the Mariners to make room for him -- but was ready for whatever the Yankees ask of him.
"It was strange, because I was starting to feel like I was getting quality starts in," Betances said of his shift to the bullpen. "But you know, there was nothing I [could have] done about it. Whatever I need to do, man, I'm just ready. I always knew that at some point I would get the chance to be here. So I’m just happy to be here, very happy. It’s a good day for me."