Joba learning as he goes this spring
At this point, righty just getting work in before season starts
CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Joba Chamberlain wasted no time watching the drive soar over the right-field wall, instead focusing his attention toward home plate and asking for a new ball. He knew the last one was gone.
The Yankees right-hander would repeat the drill one batter later, as Ryan Howard followed Chase Utley's solo homer with one of his own. Though Chamberlain would eventually settle in, his final line was still smarting from those first-inning shots at Bright House Field.
"They crushed them," Chamberlain said. "There's no getting around it. I'd rather give up a long one than a short one."
But Chamberlain said that he is not paying much mind. With two starts remaining until the regular season begins, Chamberlain feels as though he is rounding into form as the Yankees' fifth starter.
"It wasn't great," Chamberlain said. "It's one of those days that you've got to compete to get through it. I felt like I did that pretty well. They hit good pitches in hitters' counts -- that's what they get paid to do."
Working 4 1/3 innings in the Yankees' eventual 10-2 victory over the Phillies, Chamberlain limited the damage after the shots to Utley and Howard, permitting one more hit while walking three and striking out three.
But he needed 76 pitches to get to that point, and the Yankees would like to see Chamberlain trim that. He will have another opportunity next Tuesday against the Reds in Sarasota, Fla., when Girardi said he would work to the neighborhood of 95 pitches.
"I think it's going to come with being more consistent with my fastball," Chamberlain said. "I feel good with everything. It's just that I get a little erratic with my fastball. It comes as I continue to get pitches in. There's time."
Girardi said that Chamberlain's velocity -- he sat in the low 90s and hit 95 mph on Thursday -- was not a concern.
"This is pretty much what we saw last year," Girardi said. "As a starter, usually you're not going to have the same velocity as you do one inning coming out of the bullpen. You might get up there, but it's a little bit harder to stay up there. We just continue to build arm strength with him."
After Tuesday's start, Chamberlain will log some frequent flier miles. He'll fly north with the Yankees to work out at the new Yankee Stadium on April 3 and 4 before returning to Tampa, Fla., to toss his final preparation session in a Minor League game on April 5. Chamberlain would then join the Yankees in Baltimore for the season opener.
Chamberlain has spoken often this spring about how excited he is to be able to tap both CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett for pitching advice, and the entire staff has been receptive to answering the 23-year-old's queries.
As a fellow hard-throwing right-hander, Burnett, in particular, has shared many thoughts with Chamberlain, including the need to become more economical with his offerings.
"I think it's outstanding, because they're similar," Girardi said. "They can talk to him about preparation and how they did it. No one is ever going to be the same, but I think there's a lot to learn there."
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.