Since he first wore a Yankees uniform on Aug. 7, 2007, Joba Chamberlain has been more than just a pitcher. Always, he has been a symbol, a story.

First a symbol of front-office perspicacity, then a story of new-age baseball overthinking. Then a reminder of pitching's perils. Then a public-service announcement against excessive trampoline usage.

When he took the mound yesterday at Yankee Stadium, his first appearance in a big league game since June 5 of last year, the right-hander took the form of a crowd-pleasing comeback, getting a "Welcome back!" from public address announcer Paul Olden and drawing a standing ovation.