I know the Joba Chamberlain starter-vs-reliever debate has gotten old, but I also know plenty of people still have questions about the decision, and both Brian Cashman and Chamberlain talked about it today. Here are a few of their comments about the situation.
On whether there have been mechanical changes since Chamberlain’s shoulder injury:
“He’s always had trouble repeating his delivery. That was prior to the Texas issue, that’s always been an issue for him. I wouldn’t trace any mechanical changes to what took place in Texas.”
On vcelocity changes since the shoulder injury:
“He used to throw 95-plus from pitch one as a starter. He doesn’t do that now. But he can do that out of the bullpen. And that also happens with the evolution of players regardless. Some guys come out of the minor leagues throwing gas, and eventually in their mid 20s start to settle in, and their stuff backs off over time. It could be that too.”
On initially keeping him as a starter after the injury:
“The velocity was down. People were asking questions. Joe would have meetings with him. Is he pacing himself? Is he saving his bullets? Never had those conversations before. If you’re saving your bullets, don’t. You’ve got to empty the tank, right from inning one. He would try, but it just wasn’t there. At some point, you accept it. This is what you see out of the rotation, this is what you see out of the bullpen. They’re radically different. It used to be the same out of the rotation and the bullpen. It played the same. Now when you scout him it’s not. It’s radically different out of the bullpen.”
On whether he’s felt the same since the shoulder injury:
“I’ve never been in the same spot so I’m always trying to figure out what works for me, making the adjustments on the fly. I’ve had to learn to pitch in the big leagues. I’m trying to make adjustments but still trying to get outs. This is the first year where I’ve had the opportunity to look back at the times I’ve been in the bullpen, the times I’ve been a starter, to know the whole year that’s where I’m going to be. I just took bits and pieces that were effective for me from the years before. The shoulder was never an issue, so I was never worried about that, I was never worried about, health-wise, anything on that.”
What does it mean to be built for the bullpen?
“I have no idea. I don’t know what that means. That’s a question you’d have to ask him. Everybody’s perception is different of what they feel. That’s a question for him (Cashman).”
Is there frustration in being assigned this role?
“No. I’m still fighting for a job on this team. Like I said, I don’t care what it is. If they feel like I’m a better fit to help us win in the bullpen, I’m not going to sit here and argue and stomp my feet like a little kid and pout about it. I’ve got the opportunity to win a job and help us have one of the best bullpens in baseball. I’ve got to take that and not worry about what the other stuff is.”
Cashman spoke outside, so the audio is pretty shaky. Here’s Chamberlain, though. He talks about both the bullpen assignment and the weight issue.
Associated Press photos