Joba Chamberlain will neither start nor close games this season for the Yankees unless things go terribly wrong with other pitchers.
However, the thought of doing one of those jobs is dancing inside Chamberlain’s head as he enters his final season before free agency.
After a brilliant inning against the Phillies at Bright House Field yesterday in which he fanned two and pushed the fastball to 93 mph in his first spring training appearance, Chamberlain was asked whether he wanted to close.
“At some point, yes,” Chamberlain said before bringing up the possibility of becoming a starter as well. “It’s one of those things. Do I have four pitches I can throw for strikes? Yes. Do I have two pitches I can throw at any time? Yes. I guess I am trying to have my cake and eat it, too. I feel I am in a position to do both and I have proven I can [start or relieve]. I want to do one or the other. I found my confidence in the bullpen and if I get a chance to start — wherever that’s at — without a doubt.”
Since Chamberlain’s last start in 2009, he has worked exclusively as a middle-to-late-inning reliever. It’s a role where there is a lot less money to be made than in starting or closing.
Based on the reactions of manager Joe Girardi and general manager Brian Cashman, Chamberlain’s job isn’t going to change this season. Girardi did not try to mask his disappointment to be answering questions about Chamberlain being a starter again.
“We have not,’’ Girardi said, cutting off a question as to whether the Yankees have talked about Chamberlain being a starter.
“I don’t know. There would have to be a lot of stamina to build up and we would be back to innings limit. We like him out of the pen. We thought [his stuff] played well there, and I think it will this year.’’
Cashman’s response was sarcastic.
“We are also down an outfield bat right now. See if he can play center,” Cashman said.
Girardi, GM dismiss Joba’s talk of starting or closing
New York Post | Feb 27