Posada: More injury risk for Joba in rotation than in bullpen

Updated: September 16, 2008, 7:04 PM ET
Associated Press

NEW YORK -- Jorge Posada reignited the debate over Joba Chamberlain's future Monday, recommending the young pitcher be kept in the bullpen and predicting more injuries if the New York Yankees put him back in their starting rotation.

Joba's '08 season stats

Rotation or bullpen, Joba Chamberlain was good wherever he was used this year, although his numbers were a little better as a reliever.

As starter As reliever
Games 12 24
W-L 3-1 1-2
ERA 2.76 2.20
Opp. BA .245 .202
K-BB 74-25 34-12

"I think if you start him and he pitches 200 innings in one year, you're going to lose him. He's going to get hurt. I don't see him as a starter," Posada said Monday during a session of "CenterStage," scheduled to air on the team's YES Network starting Sept. 28.

Chamberlain, the hard-throwing righty who turns 23 next week, began the season in the Yankees bullpen, then moved to the rotation in June. The plan was to limit his innings early, then make him a full-time starter.

"He's been around the game and that's his opinion. I'm not going to fault the guy for having an opinion. We all have opinions," Chamberlain said. "We have to sit down. It's going to be what's best for the team in the long run. It's your career and you have to be a part of it. You do what's best for yourself, also, but the end goal is to win a championship. Whether that's in the bullpen or as a starter, time will tell."

He was sidelined from Aug. 4 to Sept. 2 because of rotator cuff tendinitis and went back to the bullpen when he returned.

"A little tendinitis, it just tells you a lot," Posada said after the TV interview. "I think his body is made up for a reliever."

Chamberlain was 3-1 with a 2.76 ERA in 12 starts, striking out 74 in 65 1/3 innings. He's 1-2 with a 2.29 ERA in 24 relief appearances, fanning 34 in 28 2/3 innings.

New York hasn't decided its future plans for Chamberlain.

"We'll discuss whether Chamberlain will be a starter or a reliever, along with everything else, during the winter," co-chairman Hank Steinbrenner said.

Manager Joe Girardi didn't mind Posada voicing his opinion, saying "some players feel more freely to discuss them openly than others." He also said the decision could depend on offseason developments.

"For right now, we still envision him as a starter. We just didn't have a chance to build him up," Girardi said.

He did reject the notion that starting makes Chamberlain more susceptible to injury.

"You can't put your head inside a guy's arm," he said. "People will argue it's better to start every five days from a physical standpoint, where you get four days' rest. Other people say it's better to throw in the bullpen, but what if you have to throw three days in a row? I mean, I think it just depends on the individual."

Chamberlain would like the debate to end at some point.

"At the beginning of the year, we're just going to have to say, this is it," he said. "Then I never want to answer another question about it again."

Posada had season-ending shoulder surgery June 30 and expects to return behind the plate for New York next season, anticipating he can catch 120-130 games.

With the Yankees almost certain to miss the playoffs for the first time since 1993, the 37-year-old says the team must go into the free-agent market to repair its starting rotation. CC Sabathia, Ben Sheets and A.J. Burnett are their chief targets.

"We're pretty much going to be in it, but you don't know if those guys are going to want to come here," Posada said. "I hope they do."

New York figures to have tens of millions of dollars available: Jason Giambi ($21 million), Andy Pettitte ($16 million), Bobby Abreu ($16 million), Mike Mussina ($11 million) and Carl Pavano ($11 million) are all potentially eligible for free agency.

"We're going to do whatever we can to improve, whether it's free agency or trades," Steinbrenner said.

On another topic, Posada voiced anger toward Pedro Martinez for the 2003 brawl between the Yankees and the Red Sox during the AL Championship Series.

"I thought he was going to hit me in the head with a bat, after we had the fight and he pushed Don Zimmer. It was ridiculous. I mean, he throws at Karim Garcia because he's losing the game. I mean, there's no class," Posada said.

It might have been an uncomfortable situation had Posada signed with the New York Mets after the 2007 season. He would have had to catch Martinez.

"You try to forget about the past and look forward," Posada said.

Told of Posada's comments after the Mets' 7-2 loss at the Nationals on Monday night, Martinez said he wouldn't throw at a batter on purpose because he was angry about losing.

Martinez also said Posada insulted Martinez's mother during that game.

"He cursed my mom, which is something I would never do to his mom, because she doesn't play," Martinez said. "She's not in the field. She's someone that you admire and respect. And I didn't like that."

Martinez pointed at his own head during the confrontation.

"It wasn't precisely to tell him that I wanted to hit him in the head," Martinez. "No, he's a human being, and he has a family, and I'm a professional. What I meant from his head was because he cursed my mom. I'll remember that. Because he knows he's Latin. As much as he pretends to be American, he's Latin, both sides, and he knows that cursing your mom in Latin America will get you into a fight. But, it wasn't to try to tell him.

"I actually had done it the inning before to Varitek. I would go like this," Martinez said, pointing to his head, "when there was a sequence or something. I go like this. If you go like this, it's not hit you in the head. It's think about it. That's what I meant to say: I'll remember what you just did."


Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press