Notes: Chamberlain an apt student
Rookie reliever seeking info, inspiration wherever he can
NEW YORK -- Joe Torre summoned Joba Chamberlain for the ninth inning of Friday's game because the rookie right-hander needed a frame of work, not to satisfy the curiosities of the crowd in attendance.
But once the 21-year-old took the mound, the Yankees' bench seemed to join the chants of "JO-ba, JO-ba!" that have quickly become a trademark at home games. Certainly, Chamberlain's talent has demanded attention.
"What he brings to the table is exciting," Torre said. "He's someone that doesn't come down the pike on a regular basis. [For] his age, he seems to be mature. He really hasn't had to deal with a whole lot yet, but his makeup makes you think that he'll be able to do that.
"There's not much that you really don't like about him, for sure. He's good sized, he's aggressive, and I think people admire somebody who goes out there and says, 'Hey, I dare you.'"
Chamberlain turned in his sixth scoreless inning of work against the Tigers on Friday, surrendering a hit to Magglio Ordonez but otherwise holding Detroit down in the final frame of a 6-1 Yankees victory.
Chamberlain gave credit to the Yankees' infielders and especially catcher Jorge Posada for helping him settle in. In his first Yankee Stadium appearance on Monday, Chamberlain spoke of being too emotionally revved up as he jogged to the mound; Posada calmed his nerves with soothing words that day and repeated that message on Friday.
"He tells me to relax, slow the game down and understand that it doesn't go until you go," Chamberlain said. "I don't care how many times I hear it. You can still get a little [excited] running in and hearing the fans go crazy. It always helps when he comes out."
Chamberlain finished on a high note on Friday, striking out Ivan Rodriguez swinging on a low slider to end the game. The whiff was Chamberlain's ninth punchout in four Major League appearances.
"It was good," Chamberlain said. "I've just got to keep executing pitches. I had a good part of their lineup coming up and kind of had an idea going out of how I was going to approach those guys."
Notable in the inning was the first batter Chamberlain faced, former Yankee Gary Sheffield -- a power-on-power showcase, as Sheffield waved his bat in his furious, familiar stance and Chamberlain challenged him with a fastball. Sheffield just missed the pitch, flying out to left field.
"I made a good pitch to Sheff, and he just missed it," Chamberlain said. "You win some and you lose some, and I got that one. You've got to make sure next time you've got to be a little bit better. It was a learning experience, and it was good to face those guys."
Nicks and knacks: Derek Jeter is ailing somewhat, Torre said, though the captain isn't about to reveal much of what's bothering him.
While Jeter spends a fair amount of time in the trainers' room each day to prepare, a day off is in his near future. Entering play on Saturday, Jeter was hitting .323, but had just four hits in his last 21 at-bats.
"I think he's a little beat-up," Torre said. "He got hit in the leg the other day [against Baltimore], and that's been slowing him a little bit. We'll look to spell him here and give him a day off in the next couple of days."
Rocket fuel: In the hours leading up to Saturday's start, Roger Clemens took time out of his afternoon to whisk Chamberlain aside, conversing in the Yankees' clubhouse over a steaming beverage.
Chamberlain's locker at Yankee Stadium resides in rather select territory, the stall to the immediate left of Clemens', a designation that was certainly not made randomly.
Torre said he was not sure how much Chamberlain and Clemens were sharing information, but Saturday's impromptu pep talk appeared to be an indication of a budding relationship.
"I don't follow him around on a regular basis, but Roger is so open with what he knows and he certainly goes out of his way to help the young pitchers," Torre said. "I know he's done it with [Phil] Hughes, and I don't know how many times they've come together, but Joba isn't shy. He's not arrogant, either, but he's not shy."
Bombers bits: The Yankees have regained Mariano Rivera's services. The closer was available but not needed on Friday. ... The weight room facilities at Yankee Stadium, used by both clubs at differing times, are being sanitized after the Tigers' exit to avoid the spread of the team's flu virus. ... Clemens entered Saturday's start needing five strikeouts to reach 1,000 as a Yankee.
Coming up: The Yankees and Tigers complete their four-game weekend series on Sunday, sending right-hander Chien-Ming Wang (13-6, 4.09 ERA) to the mound opposite right-hander Jeremy Bonderman (10-5, 4.65). First pitch is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. ET on the YES Network.
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.