NEW YORK (Reuters) - New York reliever Joba Chamberlain is expected to be out of action for at least a year while he recovers from reconstructive surgery to his injured pitching elbow, the Yankees said on Friday.

The right-handed pitcher is set to go under the surgeon's knife on Thursday, ending his chances of playing again this season and the start of 2012.

"Generally, you see these guys and it's around a year when you have Tommy John (surgery)," Yankees manager Joe Girardi told reporters.

"I'm not sure when we'll get him back, but we'll get him back as soon as we can."

The loss further depletes a bullpen that was considered one of the team's strengths going into the season.

Chamberlain suffered a complete tear of the medial collateral ligament in his right elbow, doctors learned on Thursday.

Chamberlain said he felt no pain in the elbow and the only indication of a problem came on Tuesday, when there was tightness near the forearm, he said.

"You're going to have to cut my arm off to stop me from pitching," Chamberlain said on Thursday. "But on the other hand, you have to realize this is your career. At 25, I'm still fairly young."

He was 2-0 with a 2.83 earned run average in 27 appearances this season.

The Yankees, who were swept by the American League East leading Boston Red Sox this week, also are without set-up man Rafael Soriano and lefty specialists Pedro Feliciano and Damaso Marte.

(Reporting by Gene Cherry in Raleigh; Editing by Julian Linden)