"Nobody wants to have surgery," said Chamberlain, while struggling to pour a garlic butter container on a slice of pizza with his left hand. "But if you have to have one, Papa John's surgery is the one you want to get. I hope to be back and eating more than ever very soon."
A MRI this week showed that Chamberlain has a tear in a ligament in his right elbow. Team doctors believe it's due to a strain on the joint from the weight and quantity of food he shoves into his mouth with his right hand.
"I've seen a lot of MRIs in my day, and his was not typical," said Yankees team physician Dr. Christopher Ahmad. "The tear was not the kind that comes from throwing a baseball. Actually, the only similar MRI was one I saw when I was thinking of becoming a veterinarian. An overweight elephant had a tear like Joba's in its trunk."
The Yankees initially considered trying an arthroscopic procedure, but felt that could only make the problem worse.
"Due to Joba's diet, his joints are cushioned by a thick, cheesy, garlic butter substance," said Dr. Ahmad. "It's not a healthy diet, but it's actually not a bad joint lubricator. And we don't want that to drain out."
Chamberlain was initially hesitant to agree to surgery, saying he didn't want to miss any meals while under anesthesia, "but once they mentioned it was Papa John's surgery, I was in. I eat that stuff every day for breakfast."
Dr. Ahmad said the procedure is actually the standard Tommy John surgery.
"But we called it something else so Joba would do it and have a positive mindset about it," he said. "We also considered calling it Reconstructive JELL-O surgery, but Papa John's surgery won out."