Chamberlain fine with Yankees' plans
CHICAGO -- Joba Chamberlain tried to stay away from TV on his day off Monday. So his friends called to make sure he heard the latest: Team co-chairman Hank Steinbrenner was saying he should be in the New York Yankees' rotation instead of the bullpen.
"I told them from the get-go whatever they want me to do," Chamberlain said Tuesday. "If it is starting, yes. If it's staying in the bullpen. ... I'm fine, too."
On Monday, Steinbrenner said: "We're not going to rush him. I think most people agree with me, including the baseball people and most of the fans, that sooner or later it would be nice if he was a starter."
But in an earlier interview with the New York Times, Steinbrenner was much more emphatic about where Chamberlain should be pitching:
"I want him as a starter and so does everyone else, including him, and that is what we are working toward and we need him there now," Steinbrenner said. "There is no question about it, you don't have a guy with a 100 mph fastball and keep him as a setup guy. You just don't do that. You have to be an idiot to do that."
Manager Joe Girardi steered clear Tuesday, saying the Yankees were following the path mapped out for Chamberlain over the winter.
"We're on the same page," Girardi said. "Obviously, we had a plan with Joba in the winter. We talked about it in the spring and everything's fine."
Pressed if Chamberlain would eventually become a starter, especially with some of the Yankees' current starters such as Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy struggling, Girardi wasn't about to look that far ahead. He said speculating would be irresponsible.
"He's in our bullpen now and that's our plan," the first-year manager said.
"I'm sure there will be discussions about all our players during the course of the season and you feel there's a need to make a change with a player, you make it," Girardi said. "But right now, he's in our bullpen."
Chamberlain appeared in 19 games with the Yankees last season -- all in relief -- and had a 0.38 ERA in 24 innings. This season he's 1-0 with a 1.42 ERA in six relief appearances spanning 6 1/3 innings.
"If it comes down to it, if I'm going to get switched, then I've got to do some things to get ready," Chamberlain said. "If I'm going to stay where I'm at, I'm fine, too."
He would have to be stretched out to join the rotation, meaning he would have to get used to a higher pitch count and more innings. The 22-year-old Chamberlain has been a starter in the minors and in college at Nebraska.
"You have to change your approach mentally I think a little bit, I think that will be the biggest adjustment," he said.
But for right now, he's content with whatever his role is.
"It will be interesting to see what takes place," he said.
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press
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