On a day when he wasn’t pitching and seemed to have answered every possible question about his assignment to the bullpen, Joba Chamberlain found himself surrounded by reporters on Sunday.
“You come to the ballpark, you never know what you’re going to get,” he said.
All of the attention centered on a radio interview with pro scouting director Billy Eppler, who said he did not think it was likely Chamberlain would be competing for a rotation spot next season.
“I can’t look ahead to three years from now or next year,” Chamberlain said. “I have to be thinking about the situation I’m in now and try to embrace it and go with it. If I get caught up in looking at, in five years I want to do this, then I’m not doing my job now.”
Brian Cashman said Eppler’s comments were a matter of opinion, not an official stance of the Yankees. The Yankees, he said, have not had a formal discussion about Chamberlain’s ultimate role beyond the start of this season.
“Billy’s good,” Cashman said. “He’s been an asset, and he’s going to continue to be an asset. But this is also a growth spurt. He’s going to be something special in this game. I’m glad that you guys have access to him. Give an opinion, and although at times I might disagree with his opinion, he makes us better. I want him out there talking to you guys as much as he can. I don’t want him to shy away from his opinion. I support that opinion, although maybe I disagree with a variance of what he said. I want him to speak.”
And here’s Cashman.
My own opinion: This incident speaks more to the nature of the Chamberlain situation than to any sort of divide in the organization. It’s great to hear a guy like Eppler give his opinion — and Dave Eiland too — but I tend to believe Cashman when he says nothing has been decided. The Yankees might very well be leaning toward keeping Chamberlain in the pen, but I don’t think anyone will have a set-in-stone answer until the end of the season at the earliest.
As an aside, I first came across the Eppler interview when someone emailed to say Eppler was touting my paintball experience on WFAN. If you listen past the Chamberlain bit, you’ll hear him admit to shooting me in the back of the head on Friday. At least he’s an honest scoundrel.