Girardi: Chamberlain will be back this season

BALTIMORE -- Joba Chamberlain threw 35 pitches off the mound Saturday, giving the New York Yankees hope the right-hander will soon recover from the rotator cuff tendinitis that put him on the 15-day disabled list earlier this month.

"Everything felt good, felt pretty neat," he said. "I cut a couple loose. Nothing tightened up after I let one go."

Chamberlain, 22, has been on the disabled list since Aug. 6 and has not pitched since Aug. 4. He is 4-3 with a 2.63 ERA in 32 games, including 12 starts.

He expects to take the day off Sunday, then throw 45 pitches in the bullpen on Monday.

"Looked great," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said of Chamberlain's session. "If he feels all right, he'll go to the bullpen Monday. Beyond bullpen? That's beyond Monday."

Being back on the pitching rubber was almost a foreign feeling for Chamberlain.

"I had to look around on the mound just to make sure I knew what I was doing. You don't think you're gone that long and then you get back on and it seems like you're throwing a mile away," he said. "You get that peace of mind to know you can still throw. I want to get into a game, just to get back in there and try to help the team win."

Whether he returns as a starter or in the bullpen, the Yankees would love to have Chamberlain back. But won't rush him.

"I don't have any doubt he'll pitch this year. We've got to try to figure out what he's going to do, but a day at a time," Girardi said.

It is unclear if Chamberlain's recovery will occur quickly enough to allow him to pitch in a minor league game on a rehabilitation assignment.

"If you run out of games in the minor leagues then there's simulated games. There's a lot of different things you can do," Girardi said.

To fill his spot in the rotation Saturday, the Yankees activated Carl Pavano from the 60-day disabled list to make just his third start for the Yankees in the past 2½ years. New York optioned left-hander Billy Traber to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to clear room for Pavano.