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YORK -- Joba Chamberlain had already made it to Waterfront Park in Trenton, N.J., on Tuesday afternoon, expecting to put on a uniform for the Double-A Trenton Thunder, and he even boasted on Twitter about the light traffic on the New Jersey Turnpike.
Chamberlain's car's engine hadn't even cooled in the parking lot when he picked up the phone, learning that he needed to get back in the car and head north up Interstate 95.
With the Yankees dealing right-hander Chad Qualls to the Pirates for infielder Casey McGehee just before baseball's 4 p.m. non-waiver Trade Deadline, Chamberlain's rehab stint ended early and he was to be activated to the big league roster for Tuesday's Yankees game, an 11-5 loss to the Orioles.
"You're expected to go to Trenton and pitch, and you go in, and the next thing you know, they're telling you to turn around," Chamberlain said. "I guess it's the way my career has gone; fast and not really knowing what's going to happen. I guess I wouldn't have it any other way."
Chamberlain did not appear in Tuesday night's loss. As his ride whizzed toward the George Washington Bridge, he reached out to a number of people who helped him recover from the Tommy John surgery performed on his right elbow last June -- as well as the open dislocation of his right ankle in March -- thanking them for their help.
"It feels like I'm doing this all over again," Chamberlain said. "I did it in 2007, telling everybody I made it to the big leagues, and to be honest with you, I was more nervous today than when I got called up. It's nice to have those feelings again."
With the Qualls deal in the works, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman checked with head athletic trainer Steve Donohue earlier on Tuesday, asking if there would be any health risks to activating Chamberlain if the trade could be completed.
"He said no," Cashman said. "I said, 'OK, as of right now, keep him on line in Trenton, but if I move on Qualls for McGehee, then obviously I would reinstate Joba.'"
Chamberlain had a 0.96 ERA in seven Minor League appearances this year, pitching for the Gulf Coast Yankees, Class A Advanced Tampa and Trenton. Tuesday was expected to be his final outing before being activated; his 30-day rehab clock would have expired on Aug. 6.
In his final Minor League outing, on Sunday for Trenton, Chamberlain entered mid-inning and pitched 1 1/3 scoreless frames, permitting a single and striking out three. He allowed just four hits in his rehab outings, walking one and striking out 10 over 9 1/3 innings.
"He threw the ball well," manager Joe Girardi said. "There are times when guys go on a rehab and they've been in the big leagues, and they get hit around a little bit [because] it's not the same intensity level. But I think Joba took it pretty serious and threw pretty well, so we're pretty pleased with what he did."
Chamberlain said that he spoke with Girardi about how he would be used and was told there would be no restrictions. The Yankees envision Chamberlain as a late-innings reliever who could face both left-handed and right-handed hitters, throwing as many as 30-40 pitches per outing.
"It's going to be all go, and that's the way I want it," Chamberlain said. "I don't want any -- I dare to say -- any 'Joba Rules.' I don't want any of that. I want to be able to just go."