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Joba values experiences, time spent with Yankees

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NEW YORK -- While the Yankees took batting practice prior to Monday's game, Tigers right-hander Joba Chamberlain was on the field exchanging laughs and hugs while reconnecting with some of his old teammates.

Chamberlain returned to Yankee Stadium for the first time since signing with the Tigers last offseason, and did not even know where to find the visitors' clubhouse. The Yankees drafted Chamberlain in the first round of the 2006 First-Year Player Draft, and Chamberlain spent parts of seven seasons in New York.

There were highs -- as a rookie setup man in 2007, he posted a 0.38 ERA in 19 appearances -- and by the end, there were injuries and lows, an ERA higher than 4.00 in both 2012 and '13. Because of that, Chamberlain was not sure how fans would react when he makes his first appearance in a game as a visitor.

"I don't know," Chamberlain said. "It's going to be interesting. I gave them everything I had. I had some great years, I had some terrible years."

He later added about his time as a Yankee: "It wasn't all easy, I'd be lying if I didn't say I got frustrated at times, but in the end, it made me a better person, it made me a better baseball player.

"I used all those things my first seven years, and this offseason, to kind of figure out how I can make myself better. Without those experiences and without those opportunities, I don't think I have the year I'm having this year."

And Chamberlain is enjoying a career renaissance this season with the Tigers. Entering Monday, he had a 3.02 ERA in 49 appearances, primarily as the Tigers' setup man.

Chamberlain was in a jovial mood while speaking to reporters, especially on the topic of his bushy beard, something he could not grow in New York per Yankees team policy.

"I'm extremely lazy and don't like to shave, so I just said, 'Forget it,'" Chamberlain said. "I was just going to do it for Spring Training, and then didn't shave one day. Seven months later, still haven't shaved."

Jamal Collier is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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