5/22/2008 01:29:00 AM

It's Official--Chamberlain Will Join Starting Rotation

Posted by Mark McCray |

Frankly, I am surprised it took this long...

Tyler Kepner/New York Times:

The Yankees began Joba Chamberlain’s transition to the starting rotation on Wednesday, when he worked the final two innings — 35 pitches — of the Yankees’ 8-0 victory against the Orioles.

There’s no announced date, but the plan is under way. Chamberlain will start this season, and he may not even need a minor-league stint to get ready. The Yankees, for now, plan to stretch out his arm in the majors.

In doing so, the Yankees are rejecting the idea of keeping Chamberlain as a setup man and then making him Mariano Rivera’s successor as the closer in 2011, when Chamberlain will be 25. In explaining the move, General Manager Brian Cashman said Chamberlain had always projected better as a starter, a role where he could use his four-pitch repertory. He said there was no input from ownership on the decision, and that this has been the plan all along.

“We haven’t forgotten the ability that he’s shown from one through seven or eight innings as a starter, and how he maintained it,” Cashman said. “It’s hard to forget, if you had a chance to see that. And because of that, we’re sticking with the program we’ve had in place now for quite some time.”

Cashman continued: “Joba was asked to do something for the best of the franchise last year, and he did it exceptionally well. We’re going back to the purpose that we drafted him and the projections that we had on him.”

The phrase that stuck with me of those comments is this: “if you had the chance to see that.” I traveled to Trenton last July and I did have a chance to see Chamberlain start. And I was awed by the possibility of what he could do as a starter.

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