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Joba goes 2 innings as conversion to starter begins

NEW YORK -- The New York Yankees have
begun the process of turning hard-throwing Joba Chamberlain
into a starting pitcher, manager Joe Girardi said after
Wednesday's 8-0 victory over the Baltimore Orioles.

Chamberlain, a dominant set-up man for relief ace
Mariano Rivera since coming up from the minors last season, pitched the
eighth and ninth innings on Wednesday despite the big lead.

"The process has started -- converting Joba into a starter,"
Girardi told reporters. "Tonight was the first of extending him
a little bit and we'll continue to do it."

The Yankees entered the season relying on two young
starters -- Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy -- but both have
struggled, Hughes now sidelined until July at the earliest with
a fractured rib.

Girardi said shifting Chamberlain into the rotation this
season had been the plan all along.

"This is the timetable we had set," said Girardi. "It's
going to take him a while to get to 100 pitches. You saw the
first of it tonight."

Chamberlain threw 35 pitches on Wednesday, including a
number of changeups -- a pitch he will need to mix in with his
bristling fastball and diving slider as a starter.

The burly right-hander said he was given the news Tuesday.

"Yesterday we sat down and talked," said the 22-year-old,
who had never pitched in relief until he joined the Yankees
midway through last season.

"We're going to be patient. I'm excited to see what
happens."

Girardi said for now he would build Chamberlain's endurance
with the Yankees and not send him down to the minors but
declined to predict when the player would be ready to start.

Meanwhile, Kyle Farnsworth was singled out by Girardi as a
candidate to take over as the eighth-inning pitcher who serves
as a bridge to closer Rivera.