On Wednesday at Camden Yards, Yankees right-hander Joba Chamberlain made what could be his final appearance out of the bullpen, throwing 1 1/3 scoreless innings against the Orioles in a 4-2 New York victory. With his first start set for Tuesday against the Blue Jays back in the Bronx, Chamberlain was more than happy to talk about his upcoming role as a starter, energizing his club and the energy that his new manager brings to the clubhouse.
Holden Kushner: Joba, the last time you were in Baltimore your father fell very ill, how's he doing now?
Joba Chamberlain: Oh he's doing great, it was probably about six weeks ago, he's doing well, he just went to the lung doctor and everything he said is surprised that it came along so quick so he's dong good, and every time someone asks my dad tells me to say thanks for all the thoughts and prayers just cause he wouldn't be able to do it without everybody so on behalf of me, my family and my father I'd like to thank everybody.
HK: Well that's terrific. Let's talk about on-field issues. When you came up last year, you energized this ballclub and you energized Yankee Stadium. Can you foresee some of that coming again when you move from the bullpen to the rotation?
JC: You just have to maintain the same edge you had when you got here, try not to change who you are, you got to where you're at for a reason, and just maintain the same edge that you got and maybe a little chip you had on your shoulder and maybe you go out there and try to give it everything you've got, whether it was the eighth inning like last year and a little bit this year and hopefully now it's from the first inning onto the seventh and the eighth.
HK: You were telling me that more than anything, you needed to get your legs as strong as your arm is right now to make a successful transition to starting. Talk to me about the adjustments you have to make as a starter as opposed to reliever.
JC: As a reliever you gotta work out that day and get your legs under you and maintain the strength you had in spring training, and as a starter you've got those four days you're not doing anything, you have no activity, so it's a little different. I do more sprinting stuff as a reliever and now I gotta maintain the endurance and try more long distance and endurance stuff.
HK: Another adjustment is that you've been sitting in the dugout sometimes rather than sitting in the bullpen. What's the difference in perspective?
JC: You get a better feel for the game being in the dugout. Being so far away sometimes you can't really tell how he's pitching a guy, if it was that far in or it was up, being here you get the opportunity to see it close up and get in the pitchers' and the hitters' heads, to see what they're seeing. Sometimes out there you get a better view of the game because you're so far back, in here you get to see maybe patterns and things that they're doing like that.
HK: When do you plan on introducing some of your other pitches -- the curveball, the changeup -- into game action?
JC: My first time out I think I threw five changeups in the game and then I've thrown the curveball throughout the year, and I haven't thrown too many changeups. You gotta focus on getting outs, which is your No. 1 job, and if the situation calls for a changeup or a curveball, that's the time to work on it, don't just work on it throw it. When you do that sometimes bad things happen, so you just gotta get outs first and foremost and second of all if the situation calls for it go ahead and throw one of those pitches.
HK: And you throw the circle-change, what are you going to have to do to refine that, to make that game ready?
JC: You just gotta continue to throw it. The changeup is such a feel pitch, the more you throw it the more comfortable you feel, so it's just playing catch with it like I always have, and taking that on the mound with me, just making sure that I have confidence in it and just be sure and throw it and not baby it.
HK: A friend of mine, Mel Antonen from USA Today caught up with you a couple days ago and said Roger Clemens had sent you some text messages. What were some of the things he was telling you via phone?
JC: First of all he said, good luck, keep working hard and always keep your eye on the prize, when you think you got it figured out is when it comes up and bites you in the butt, so just make sure you get your work in and on that fifth day when you do start, that's your easiest day and the other days you just beat yourself up and just maintain focus and know what you have to do to win a ballgame.
HK: Is it more professional than personal?
JC: It's both. It became such a different relationship as far as that when I got to know him when he was on the team, so that was a little different and when my dad got sick he texted me and told me to wish him the best. It's been great to be able to not just ask him questions, but asking advice from everybody from guys like Andy Pettitte and Moose, guys who have been around for a while.
HK: Before I let you go I want to talk about the manager here, Joe Torre last year, Joe Girardi, any difference in the feel of the clubhouse?
JC: The energy. Joe [Torre] is so old school and about going about his business, you've got to take something from Torre, and you gotta take something from Girardi and make this team what it is, and guys have done a great job, it's just the energy level, Joe [Torre] has been around for a long time so, and so has Girardi, he hadn't been out of the game that long so it's good to see the energy, and it's a good mix of both clubs.
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