It's sometimes difficult to believe that Joba Chamberlain still has less than one year of big league service time, but in under 12 months, the hard-throwing right-hander has already become something of a larger-than-life figure running out of the Yankees bullpen. In this edition of the Yankees Insider, Chamberlain joined MLB.com for a wide-ranging Q&A that touches on a variety of his interests, tastes and memories.
MLB.com: What do you remember about the circumstances of being called to the big leagues for the first time?
Chamberlain: It was kind of hectic, because I was getting out that night [on Aug. 6, 2007] and I made sure that I called everybody and told them I got called up. Then I was just trying to figure out how I would get to the hotel [in Toronto] and figure out what was going to go on from there. I tried to get some sleep and I got to the ballpark, and of course I had to carry my baseball bag in, and all of a sudden three cameras came. Phil Hughes sold me out, so there I am, by myself with my bag. I'm between [Ron] Villone and Farnsy [Kyle Farnsworth] in the clubhouse, and it all happened so fast. I had to make sure I was where I needed to be.
MLB.com: What is it about playing in New York that stands out in your mind?
Chamberlain: I think it's the tradition and everything that goes along with being a New York Yankee. You hear about it, and being a baseball fan, you understand. But when you finally put the uniform on, you realize it goes further than this uniform. It definitely makes you feel privileged to wear it.
MLB.com: What is your daily routine, and how has it changed since you became a reliever?
Chamberlain: I'll get up and eat breakfast, relax and run an errand, and then work out and come to the field. At home, I usually get to the park at about 2:30, and depending on if I have anything to do before the game, sometimes I'll leave before the bus on the road just so I can come in and relax and just hang out. Adjusting from a starter to a reliever was the hardest part, because there were a couple of times where as a starter, you could beat yourself up [in the gym] for three or four days. I remember a couple of times where I probably did too much in the weight room. You need to make sure where you are and maybe get a little stronger, but you can't be in that starter routine where you lift hard. That was the biggest thing. I knew if I pitched that day, I'd have the next day off.
MLB.com: What do you think has been the biggest influence on your career?
Chamberlain: I think it's just never relaxing. Last year I didn't have that opportunity because I got called up [to each level] a month apart. It was never being satisfied, and trying to get better, and asking questions. It's one thing to get here, but it's another thing to stay here. I try to come in and get better every day and try to learn something.
MLB.com: Any one person stand out in your development?
Chamberlain: I try to take a little bit from everybody. I think I learned a lot from the hitters, too, talking to Derek [Jeter], Jason [Giambi] and Alex [Rodriguez]. I used to hit, but not at this level. You're talking to three guys that have done it, and I have it from a pitcher's aspect of how you stay in your game and do what you do. I think you have to go to the other side and ask those guys what they recognize and what they look for. I don't want to be in that comfort zone of just looking at it from a pitcher's side.
MLB.com: Who is your best friend in baseball, and why?
Chamberlain: Probably Jason. It's hard to say. I could say Jason or I could say Chien-Ming [Wang], and then people would say, "How are you and Chien-Ming best friends?" I guess it's our personalities. You'd think that we would clash -- extroverts sometimes don't go together, you know what I'm saying? But we go together good. Jason is one of the most down-to-earth and genuine people you can meet. It's one thing to be a great baseball player, but he's a great human being.
MLB.com: What has been your best moment on the field so far?
Chamberlain: Getting to celebrate [the 2007 Wild Card] with these guys. With the long year that they had, I got to be part of the opportunity to go to the playoffs and be a part of this team. Hopefully, there's many more to come.
MLB.com: What's your best moment off the field?
Chamberlain: Probably the people that I've met. I've met so many people that I've looked up to for a long time. I met Charles Barkley and that was huge. Paul [Teutel] Sr. from Orange County Choppers, that whole family was awesome. Russell Simmons was great. These are people you see and look at them in such a different light, and then you meet them and they're some of the most down-to-earth, nice people. I admire people who are real and speak their minds, and don't change for anything.
MLB.com: What are some of your hobbies and interests away from the stadium?
Chamberlain: Other than hanging out with [my 2-year-old son] Karter, I like to spend time with my family. I like to travel too. Last year I went to Puerto Rico, Arizona, and Las Vegas. I'd never been to any of them. There's opportunities to talk to kids and sign autographs and enjoy what you did on the field. Hopefully, this year will be my first year traveling overseas. I might get to see Chien-Ming in Taiwan, and my buddy Rick VandenHurk on the Marlins is from Holland. Hopefully, I'll get an opportunity to go spread my wings for a little bit.
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.