Joba Chamberlain's season is likely over and the future for the Yankees reliever is hazy thanks to an elbow ligament tear nobody saw unraveling.

A MRI exam with dye contrast performed Thursday on Chamberlain's right arm revealed the damage the club believes will require surgery to repair.

"It would be our position that he would need Tommy John surgery,'' GM Brian Cashman said of the procedure that usually takes 12 to 16 months of recovery.

Chamberlain's agents requested the MRI exam be sent to Dr. James Andrews and Chamberlain could be examined by Andrews as soon as Friday.

Chamberlain said he wants to pitch through the problem but realizes what is at stake.

"You're going to have to cut my arm off to stop me from pitching. On the other hand, you have to realize this is your career and at 25 (years old) I'm still fairly young,'' he said. "I have that on my hands, and it's one of those things where I'm not going to try to push it. It's one of those things where if it's going to hurt my team I'm not going to do it.''

Tuesday, Chamberlain underwent a precautionary MRI exam that revealed a strained flexor tendon. He was placed on the disabled list retroactive to June 6.

Losing Chamberlain is a big blow to the Yankees' bullpen that is already without Pedro Feliciano and Rafael Soriano. In 27 games, Chamberlain was 2-0 with a 2.83 ERA, whiffed 24 in 28 2/3 innings, and was better at setting up Mariano Rivera than Soriano was.