SEATTLE -- The Yankees decided to call an audible with their starting rotation Friday, shifting to line up Joba Chamberlain for a start Sunday against the Mariners at Safeco Field.

Chamberlain had originally been intended to start on Wednesday against the Athletics in Oakland, but that effort will be swapped with Chad Gaudin, who will make his first Yankees start. After Sunday, Chamberlain will receive eight days' rest before his next appearance on Aug. 25 against the Rangers.

The 23-year-old right-hander said he understands why the Yankees are staggering his starts, mapping his efforts so that he will remain under a limit -- believed to be 160 innings -- in 2009. He said that he looks forward to a day when the training wheels will come off completely.

"This innings thing, I'm pretty excited to be able to get rid of those [limitations] soon," Chamberlain said. "We're on Year 3 and we've still got 'Joba Rules.' It's definitely taught me patience."

Chamberlain is 8-2 with a 3.85 ERA in 22 starts for New York this season. The switch allows the Yankees to avoid pitching Sergio Mitre and Gaudin back-to-back at Seattle, and manager Joe Girardi said that a decision was made after Wednesday's 11-inning victory over the Blue Jays.

"We felt our bullpen has been worked really hard with these extra-inning games," Girardi said.

Girardi said that flip-flopping Chamberlain and Gaudin does not change the Yankees' mapped-out plan for Chamberlain's remaining starts this season. Chamberlain threw his usual bullpen Thursday and was informed after New York's 11-1 victory over the Mariners.

"I understand," Chamberlain said. "As far as the innings and being able to keep them at a number that when we get to October and continue to keep playing, we don't have to worry about them."

The alterations line up A.J. Burnett, CC Sabathia and Gaudin to pitch at Oakland, the second stop on a three-city, 10-game road trip. Andy Pettitte, Burnett and Sabathia will then pitch against the Red Sox at Fenway Park before Chamberlain opens New York's next homestand.

"We're trying to do what's best for our guys and give them extra games when we can," Girardi said. "I said we're not going to a six-man rotation, but at times we will use a sixth man to give guys an extra day."

Chamberlain said that he has not sat down and crunched the numbers behind the logic of limiting his innings, but he is aware of them.

He referred to the Mets' 1990s 'Generation K' trio of Jason Isringhausen, Bill Pulsipher and Paul Wilson, as well as Justin Verlander's dropoff from 2007 to '08 after throwing 201 2/3 innings, and suggested that the examples did have some cautionary tales to offer.

"I want to do this for a long time, and I want to be successful for many years," Chamberlain said. "As a competitor, you want to be out there battling with your team all the time. You look at the history and the people who have jumped in innings, and put the stress and workload, it has affected them.

"Maybe they didn't get hurt, but they weren't as effective as they could have been. ... History has repeated itself more than once, so there is some validity in it."