LAKELAND, Fla. -- Joba Chamberlain already had a chance to say hello to several Yankee teammates when they sent a squad to face the Tigers at Joker Marchant Stadium last week. Now, Chamberlain will return to his old Spring Training home and take the mound where his career became a saga at times.
What kind of reception he receives at Steinbrenner Field will be interesting to read. When New York writers asked him last week about the reception from Yankees fans, Chamberlain showed no bitterness toward fans that cheered him as a rookie sensation in 2007 and booed him at times last season.
"I couldn't thank the fans enough," Chamberlain told reporters last week. "They're a huge part of me being there and the success that I've had. I can only hope for the best. I gave them everything I [had] every time. Sometimes it was short, sometimes I was terrible. I'll be the first one to admit it. But I had a great run, and I was very thankful for all the fans that were there."
Chamberlain won't be the only one with a Yankees reunion on tap. Brad Ausmus never made it to the big leagues in New York, but he was a Yankees Draft pick who spent five years in the system -- all the way up to Triple-A Columbus -- before going to the Rockies in the 1992 expansion Draft.
Ausmus' deal with the Yankees allowed him to attend school at Dartmouth during the fall and winter quarters before going to Spring Training.
"I actually enjoyed it," Ausmus said. "It broke [up the calendar] for me. I had my friends at school. I'd go to school for those quarters, and then go to Spring Training and then the season, and I had my baseball friends. There wasn't really a lot of overlap, so I was happy.
"I'm not a person who likes to sit around a lot. I enjoyed having something to do. Usually after the season, I'd have a couple weeks, and then I was getting bored and it was time. It meshed well together for me."