64 pitches later, a taste of the Joba-Phil battle to come

YANKEES 197.jpgJoba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes offered a group of eight Yankees batters a combined 64 pitches to look at on Friday, and while that wasn’t enough for either of them to gain a percentage point in this great little battle we’re calling a fifth-starter’s race, it certainly gave you something to watch about on a sunny but cool afternoon at George M. Steinbrenner Field.

Both pitchers are working on the usual stuff like command, secondary pitches and strength at this point in the campaign, but the Grapefruit League is already upon us next week and it’s certainly not too early to begin looking at human beings in the box.

“It’s still just preparation,” Joe Girardi said. “We don’t want them to try to do too much right now. They’re just preparing for their starts.”

What was Jorge Posada looking at? Well, against Chamberlain he watched a nasty slider buzz his back ankle, and in catching Hughes he saw a pitcher who is developing his own mound presence. Either way, Posada liked what he saw.

“Obviously, right now it’s too early,” Posada said. “But you still want to see all that, how they handle themselves. … They have grown in a good way, both of them. Both of them, you saw it in ’07 with Joba and Phil last year, the way they have grown. You see a lot of good things. You see what the scouts were talking about, how they handle themselves.”

Posada said that Hughes stepped up in the second half last year and showed a lot of maturity in adjusting to being bounced to the bullpen, and offered raves for Chamberlain’s mental approach in tackling the last year of the Joba Rules.

“Joba had no idea what was going to happen with him,” Posada said. “It’s tough to deal with that, it really is. He has handled it real well, not knowing what’s going to happen with the Joba Rules. The pitching coach telling him, ‘You’ve got 20 pitches,’ before an inning starts.

“That’s tough to do, it really is. You can’t pitch like that – ask any of the veterans. He has handled it real well.”

  • Confirmed by Dave Eiland – CC Sabathia throws a bullpen tomorrow, with A.J. Burnett throwing Monday, Andy Pettitte Tuesday and Javier Vazquez on Wednesday. Mariano Rivera and Damaso Marte throw their first sides on Monday. 
  • The Yankees will use the DH rule on March 4, March 12, March 17 and March 20.
  • Saw Hector Noesi shyly walk up to Derek Jeter and ask him to sign a baseball in the clubhouse. Noesi tucked it on the top shelf of his locker for safe-keeping.
  • Bombers bits: The Yankees plan to use both Brett Gardner and Curtis Granderson in left field and center field when Grapefruit League games begin on March 3, looking to evaluate comfort levels. They do not anticipate a scenario where Granderson would not be in center field when Gardner is not playing. … Girardi said that outfielder Jamie Hoffmann’s Rule 5 status will not affect his chances to make the team. “Maybe in some other camps, it might work one way or another, but here we’re going to take what we feel gives us the best team,” he said. …The Yankees will have a team outing on March 2, similar to last year’s billiards tournament.

1 Comment

Joba belongs in the pen. He is lights out when he comes out of the pen in the 8th inning. He is almost perfect. You have to give Hughes a chance. If he gets more then 10 wins thats a great season for a number five starter.

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