Joba Chamberlain is 26. He is five months younger than David Robertson, just four months older than Lucas Duda.

He has jammed a Tebow-esque amount of drama/polarization, hopes/dreams, news/frustration into a short career. But his age is what he pointedly returned to during a conversation we had a few weeks back at his locker.

He had just thrown breaking balls from a mound for the first time since Tommy John surgery, and done it so well both he and the Yankees were elated. But what soured him was pessimistic speculation about his future. Because of all the noise that has surrounded his career, it feels as if Chamberlain has been around longer and, thus, must be older. To which he said, "I am 26. I haven't hit my prime yet." He was vowing the best was ahead.

Now this.

Chamberlain dislocated his ankle Thursday night. The most overt manchild on the team did so, the Yankees report, while jumping on a trampoline with his young son. General manager Brian Cashman labeled it "a significant injury." The translation is that 2012 is gone and, sadly, maybe more. For the record, he turns 27 in September.

By then the Yankees should have a better handle of just how bad this injury is long-term. But it is hard to ignore now that Joba has not thrown a major league pitch since last June 5. It is possible, therefore, he will miss the better part of two years with first an elbow and now an ankle injury.

The Yankees like Chamberlain, how hard he works and his enthusiasm for the game and, when he gets out on the mound, his talent. But if Joba doesn't pitch this year, the Yankees are going to have to decide whether to even tender him a contract for his 2013 walk season or give up on the talented lightning rod.

They will have a lot more information to make that decision in a few months. But immediately they know he will not be joining the bullpen any time soon or participating in the unspoken derby to be Mariano Rivera's successor.