Don't read too much into Joba's start
Righty says first spring outing was to work on pitches for down the road
TAMPA, Fla. -- The scoreboard at George M. Steinbrenner Field had a "2" in the ball column and a "0" under the word strike. If it were the regular season, a four-seam fastball would have been the last option selected from Joba Chamberlain's arsenal.
But it was the last day of February, and Chamberlain's main objective for the afternoon was to focus on establishing that pitch. So here came some heat down Broadway, and the Twins' Delmon Young did what he was supposed to do with it, ripping the ball up the gap in right-center field for an RBI double.
In Chamberlain's lone inning on Saturday, two Minnesota Twins rounded the bases on three hits, hardly a convincing sales job for those still not believing he is best suited for work as a starting pitcher. But Chamberlain shrugged, knowing that he kept some of his best stuff in the holster.
"It's Spring Training -- that's what it's here for," Chamberlain said. "You establish your fastball early. These guys are good enough that if they see you pitch the same guy twice in a row when you get ahead of them, they're going to know what's coming."
Chamberlain threw 22 pitches, and all but three were four-seam fastballs -- he dropped in two changeups and snapped off a lonely slider to make up the rest of the inning. The results weren't pretty, but the Yankees were OK with it.
"All the guys are trying to build arm strength, so we're trying to stress to throw a lot of fastballs early," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "We saw what we wanted to see. It's just a step to building a starter."
Chamberlain's next start will come on Thursday against Team Canada in the World Baseball Classic, intended to be a two-inning affair that should allow him to open up the repertoire more. But he still plans to live and die with the fastball until camp goes deep into next month.
"It's just a mentality," Chamberlain said. "As a power guy, you've got to limit your pitches and try to beat them with fastballs -- not try to beat them with the other stuff."
More important than the results, Chamberlain said that the ball felt good coming out of his hand. With the Yankees already speaking optimistically about him making 30 starts, Chamberlain will embrace every small inch toward that goal.
"I think one training wheel came off. We're getting there," Chamberlain said. "I understand that they've got enough confidence to run me out there 30 times, knock on wood. That's what I prepared for this offseason. I think it's just mentally an ease to know I'm going to be able to go out there and let it fly."
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.