Cashman disagrees with Eppler but defends his right to say it

Joba Chamberlain throwing a bullpen session at Steinbrenner Joba Chamberlain throwing a bullpen session at Steinbrenner Field in Tampa, Fla. (March 8, 2010) Photo Credit: AP

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TAMPA, Fla. - Yes, Brian Cashman said, he wants Billy Eppler to keep talking.

Eppler, the Yankees' director of pro scouting and one of Cashman's most trusted advisers, started a minor tempest - outside the organization - early Saturday evening during an interview on WFAN.

Asked about Joba Chamberlain starting at some point this year, Eppler said: "I don't foresee a situation where he would be starting at all."

Asked if Chamberlain will be competing for a rotation spot next year, he said: "I wouldn't consider that likely, no."

Cashman, speaking Sunday in the clubhouse, said no determination on Chamberlain's future - either for this year or in 2011 - had been made.

The GM again said the Yankees see Chamberlain as a "starter that can relieve" and that "we haven't had any team meetings and said, all right, he's a reliever for the rest of his life."

Cashman said Eppler's comments were simply an example of the "healthy dialogue" that takes place internally and that unanimity doesn't, and shouldn't, exist.

For example, pitching coach Dave Eiland also opined to a reporter Sunday that Chamberlain will stay in the bullpen.

"We are a very diversified crew," Cashman said. "It's good."

Cashman has called Eppler, 34, a "future GM somewhere" and said he's encouraged Eppler, who has been with the Yankees since 2005, to do more interviews this year than in the past. Cashman seemed amused more than anything at the minor dust-up his protégé caused - one involving Chamberlain, no less.

"A good growth spurt," Cashman called it.

Speaking later in the day from his office, Eppler said: "Brian was laughing at me a lot behind the scenes. He was cracking up."

Eppler stood behind his remarks, only adding context to them.

"You never know what circumstances are going to arise in the future," he said, referencing injuries or other unforeseen events that could necessitate putting Chamberlain back in the rotation.

"We have not had any meetings discussing the 2011 or 2012 roster. The landscape changes . . . But with that said, I just gave an honest answer."

Which is fine with Cashman. "He's going to be something special in this game, so I'm glad you guys have access to him to give an opinion," Cashman said. "Although at times maybe I might disagree with his opinion, he makes us better and I want him to be 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 to you guys."

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