Report: Damon puzzled by taking Joba out of bullpen

Updated: June 5, 2008, 8:05 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

It didn't take long for the second-guessing to begin over Joba Chamberlain's move to the New York Yankees starting rotation.

Joba Chamberlain

Chamberlain

Johnny Damon

Damon

Left fielder Johnny Damon was quoted in the New York Daily News as having some doubt about taking Chamberlain out of his set-up relief role, where he has been dominant, and making him a starter. Chamberlain went 2 1/3 innings on Tuesday night in his first start, a loss to the Toronto Blue Jays.

Asked point blank if he would send Chamberlain back to the bullpen, he said "You know what? It's not up to me. But I like winning ballgames," according to the Daily News.

However, while Damon did not explicitly say he opposed making Chamberlain a starter, he left little room for interpretation.

"I just felt like our bullpen was our strength," Damon said, according to the Daily News. "I think it still could be, but when you move a guy like that, everyone's trying to find a role. Everyone's trying to replace a guy who was possibly the best in that role.

"I remember the teams the Yankees won [championships] with, if they were winning after five innings, it was pretty much game over," Damon said, according to the report. "We kind of felt that way this year. If we were winning after six, we had [Kyle] Farnsworth in the seventh, Joba in the eighth, and Mariano [Rivera] in the ninth -- we thought it was game over.

"Now, instead, we're trying to find out who's best suited for that eighth-inning role."

Before Thursday's victory against the Blue Jays, Damon said he liked the move -- long-term.

"It's going to help out our team in the long run," Damon said. "In the short run, we're going to have to find a way to get the ball to Mariano."

Damon also compared moving Chamberlain from the bullpen to shuffling Derek Jeter out of the second spot in the batting order.

"You don't take Jeter out of the two-hole and put him in the seven-hole just because you're leaving the '4' and '5' guys on base," Damon said, according to the report. "You let him do what he does best."

The Associated Press contibuted to this report.

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