If tomorrow were Opening Day, would the most talked about middle reliever in all of baseball be ready for the season?
“One thousand percent,” Chamberlain said. “I’ve probably never felt this ready as far as physically and my secondary stuff and also being able to rely on my fastball when I need to. You have to make adjustments when you’re in this game a long time. I learned that the hard way when I got beat around a little bit. You have to be able to make those adjustments. These guys are too good in this league to not make those.”
The adjustment for Chamberlain has been a back-to-basics approach. He’s not trying to throw the ball hard — leading to ugly mechanics — he’s letting his back side do the work, and the velocity is coming easily.
“Being at 95 right now, really easy, I don’t think I’ve really let any loose yet,” Chamberlain said. “That’s a good sign for me. The inconsistency in my velocity is just my mechanics.”
It’s been an odd spring for Chamberlain. First he showed up with the setup job given to someone else. Then there were all the questions about his weight. Then there was the oblique injury that he seemed to never really consider an injury.
“Maybe odd in that sense,” Joe Girardi said. “Not odd that there’s been a lot of attention for Joba. Seems like very spring since I’ve been here there’s been a lot of attention surrounding Joba, whether he’s a reliever or the bullpen or whatever his role is. This year it’s been a different kind of attention. Hopefully this injury gets behind him and he can get back to doing what he loves to do.”
Chamberlain is always an upbeat guy, and today was no different. He said he didn’t feel he had any more to prove than anyone else in that clubhouse. He has a spot on this roster, he feels healthy and he’s ready for March 31.
“Once I warmed up and got ready, I knew there wasn’t going to be any problems,” he said. “This is the best I’ve felt in spring training.”
Here’s Chamberlain, complete with his fake outrage when a cell phone rang mid-interview. It wasn’t mine.
Associated Press photo