TORONTO -- Joba Chamberlain has made just four relief appearances since rejoining the Yankees at the beginning of the month, and so far, the results have been mixed.
But skipper Joe Girardi is still impressed with the right-hander, whose 2011 season was cut short in June due to Tommy John surgery. While working his way back from the injury, Chamberlain also suffered an open dislocation in his right ankle -- just prior to the season -- that required surgery and forced him to miss four months.
Chamberlain has allowed at least one run in each of his four appearances and walked two batters over 4 1/3 innings of work. The sample size is too small to get a good indication of his performance, but Girardi has noticed some things along the way.
"I've seen improvement each time. I think his stuff has been a little bit more consistent," Girardi said. "His slider has been more consistent and I think he will get better as time goes on."
Chamberlain is throwing his curveball and slider around the same amount he did last season, according to Fangraphs.com. The only real difference to date is that he has been throwing his fastball less and throwing a chanegup at a career-high rate.
As for his fastball, it has averaged 94.1 mph, which is a slight tick above his career norm.
Girardi said it's important to get him more innings but balancing how he does that, pending on the game situation, will be the difficult part.
Ichiro gets breather after five-RBI performance
TORONTO -- A day after Ichiro Suzuki had his best game in pinstripes, matching a career high by driving in five runs in the Yankees' 10-4 victory, manager Joe Girardi gave him a day off for Saturday's tilt against the Blue Jays.
Ichiro recorded his second multihit game as a Yankee, and knocked in five of New York's 10 runs. It was the first time since August 2004 against the Royals that Ichiro amassed five RBIs in a game.
"We had it planned out and we kind of stuck to it," Girardi said about the decision to rest him. "It's a day game after a night game, he hasn't had a day off since we've had him, we've played a lot of games. So just figured give him a day off the turf."
Girardi said before the series opener that he was going to find ways to give some of his players a breather.
New York's schedule played a factor in that -- the team is in the midst of playing 20 consecutive games -- and so did the artificial turf in Toronto, which is considered tough on the knees.
"It is, that's the tough thing, but that is just the way we chose to manage," Girardi said, when asked if it was hard a decision to sit Ichiro based on the way he has been playing.
In 17 games since joining the Yankees, Ichiro is batting .269 with one homer, 11 RBIs and has recorded a hit in all but one of those contests.
After playing center field on Friday for the first time since 2008, he has played all three outfield positions for New York and has also been used as the team's designated hitter once.
"He has been good. He has really allowed us to move some people around," Girardi said. "He has played extremely well in right, left, wherever we play him. He had a big night last night. ... he has been important."
Curtis Granderson, who entered Friday's game as a defensive replacement in the bottom of the eighth inning, was back in center field and batting sixth in the order.
Friday's win marked the 10th time the Yankees have scored at least 10 runs in a game this season and was the fourth time they have reached that total in their past 14 contests.
The Yankees have hit a Major League-leading 173 home runs in 2012 -- the most homers the team has hit through its first 112 games in franchise history. It is tied with the Angels (2000) and Mariners (1996) for the eighth-highest total through the first 112 games in a season in Major League history.
New York is on pace for 250 home runs, which would eclipse the club record of 244, set in 2009.
Chris Toman is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.