Joba Chamberlain 'obviously heavier'

Updated: February 17, 2011, 9:24 AM ET
By Andrew Marchand | ESPNNewYork.com

TAMPA, Fla. -- New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman acknowledged that Joba Chamberlain has put on weight but said the team will handle it privately.

"He's obviously heavier," Cashman said. "That's as much as I'll say."

When asked if he was unhappy with Chamberlain's conditioning, Cashman just said: "He's heavier, which you guys already know."

[+] EnlargeJoba Chamberlain
AP Photo/Charlie NeibergallYankees pitcher Joba Chamberlain pours water on his face after running in the outfield during a spring training workout Tuesday.

He later said that the team will deal with the situation and "not certainly in the public arena."

Like last year, Chamberlain is listed at 230 pounds on the official Yankees roster. However, Chamberlain appeared noticeably heavier, and neither the Yankees nor Chamberlain would say what Wednesday's weigh-in revealed.

"This is the last time I'm going to answer this question," Chamberlain said. "I know you guys have to ask it. But I feel great. I'm stronger physically. I'm better in my bullpens. Right where I was at the end of last year, getting my mechanics."

Chamberlain isn't the only Yankee with a weight issue, but starter CC Sabathia showed up to camp slimmer, saying he lost 25 pounds.

Chamberlain's role with the Yankees is up in the air. After the signing of Rafael Soriano to be the eighth-inning guy, Cashman said that Chamberlain will fight it out with David Robertson for middle innings.

"Robertson is a competitor and he is a fighter," Cashman said. "He has no problem taking an important spot in front of Joba despite not having as a big of a name."

Cashman and manager Joe Girardi have not ruled out the possibility that Chamberlain could be sent down if he doesn't have a good camp.

"I think he is trying to find his niche and where he fits," Cashman said.

Chamberlain said weight isn't an issue in that process.

"You know what?" Chamberlain said. "Everybody's going to say weight, but you know what, scales are scales. It's how your clothes fit, how everything goes like that, and I feel great. I'm getting to know my body better. I've learned to pitch in the big leagues. I've kind of adjusted every year. I'm kind of at that point where I've kind of done everything. I'm to the point know where I feel comfortable enough that I know what I need to do. I've changed a few things in the offseason. I feel great coming in."

Chamberlain first came up in 2007, raising expectations by being the lockdown eighth inning bridge to Mariano Rivera. He posted a 0.38 ERA in 24 innings.

He then was shuffled back and forth between starter and reliever. In 2008, he posted a 2.60 ERA in 100 1/3 innings, making 12 starts. As a member of the rotation in 2009, Chamberlain's ERA ballooned to 4.75, and he had a pedestrian 9-6 record.

Last season, Chamberlain lost the fifth starter competition to Phil Hughes in the spring. He went back to the bullpen but struggled and lost his eighth-inning role. The Yankees were forced to acquire Kerry Wood. Chamberlain finished with a 3-4 record, 4.40 ERA and had 77 strikeouts in 71 2/3 innings.

This spring, despite having major question marks at the No. 4 and 5 spots in the rotation, Cashman said there was no discussion about returning the 25-year-old Chamberlain to the rotation because his stuff isn't really starter quality since a 2008 shoulder injury in Texas.

It's been quite the roller coaster for Chamberlain in his young career, and now he's getting "weighed down" by another controversy.

"It is all part of being a professional," Cashman said. "You get built up. You get torn down. It is all those things. It is our job to worry about the mental and the physical and keep these guys pointed in the right direction.

"He's a good kid. His bullpens look fantastic. But, yeah, he's heavy."

Andrew Marchand covers the Yankees for ESPNNewYork.com.

Andrew Marchand is a senior writer for ESPNNewYork. He also regularly contributes to SportsCenter, Baseball Tonight, ESPNews, ESPN New York 98.7 FM and ESPN Radio. He joined ESPN in 2007 after nine years at the New York Post. Follow Andrew on Twitter »

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