Joba heads home with father in critical condition, will miss at least three games

Updated: April 14, 2008, 11:28 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla., -- Yankees reliever Joba Chamberlain left the team after his father collapsed at his home in Lincoln, Neb., and the pitcher was placed on the bereavement list.

[+] EnlargeJoba and Harlan Chamberlain
Icon SMIJoba Chamberlain's father Harlan, left, has had a myriad of health problems. He had polio when he was 9 months old, uses a motorized scooter, is deaf in one ear and doesn't have the full use of his left arm.

Harlan Chamberlain was hospitalized Monday at St. Elizabeth Regional Medical Center in Lincoln. Hospital spokeswoman Jo Miller said the family requested no further information be released.

"He is currently in critical but stable condition," Joba Chamberlain said in a statement released by the team. "I also want to thank my teammates and my manager for giving me so much support when I have needed it most. Their actions are the reason I was able to reach my father's side as quickly as I did."

The New York Daily News first reported the story Monday on its Web site.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi said Joba Chamberlain's sister called and left the pitcher a phone message during New York's 8-5 loss at Boston on Sunday night. The Daily News said the reliever spoke with his sister after the game and broke into tears, and Girardi tried to console him.

"I talked to him last night and this morning," Girardi said before Monday night's game against Tampa Bay. "His father is still going through tests. "I don't think they'll know everything they need to know for a couple days."

Girardi doesn't expect Chamberlain to rejoin the team for at least a few days.

"Family comes first," Girardi said.

Chamberlain, the Yankees' primary set-up man, traveled with the team to Florida, where New York was set to start a series against Tampa Bay on Monday night. Chamberlain then left for Nebraska, teammate Phil Hughes said.

"He was a little shaken up at first," Hughes said. "When we got here, he was fine."

Chamberlain will miss at least three games, which means he'll miss both contests against the Rays as well as the first of a two-game series against the Red Sox that starts Wednesday in the Bronx.

Harlan Chamberlain had polio when he was 9 months old and uses a motorized scooter. He is deaf in one ear and without full use of his left arm.

Harlan Chamberlain raised Joba as a single dad. He attended New York's season opener earlier this month, and was at last week's series in Kansas City.

"You can see the pleasure they get from each other being around each other," Girardi said. "It's a great story."

In a flurry of moves, the Yankees recalled RHP Jonathan Albaladejo from Scranton-Wilkes-Barre of the International League, purchased the contract of catcher Chad Moeller from Scranton and placed infielder Wilson Betemit on the 15-day disabled list with conjunctivitis.

With Jorge Posada's shoulder bothering him and backup Jose Molina sidelined by an injured hamstring, the Yankees had been without a healthy catcher on their 25-man roster.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.