Joba Chamberlain knows what Stephen Strasburg is going through

Joba Chamberlain looks on during a game against

Joba Chamberlain looks on during a game against the Boston Red Sox. (July 27, 2012) (Credit: Getty Images)

The sides have lined up, expressing their diametrically opposing views almost as fervently as Democrats and Republicans less than three months from Election Day.

The Washington Nationals are taking a measured, big-picture approach in shutting down stud pitcher Stephen Strasburg.

Or, the Nationals, sporting baseball's best record, will make a colossal blunder.

Joba Chamberlain was in the middle of a similar firestorm three summers ago.

Though Chamberlain wasn't outright pulled from the rotation -- as the Nationals eventually plan to do with the 24-year-old Strasburg -- debate swirled around the Yankees' handling of their power pitcher, then 23.

In August 2009, in order to keep Chamberlain under 160 innings, the Yankees began altering his starts. Regardless of how he was pitching, Chamberlain would be pulled after, say, three or four innings.

"You don't necessarily have to get it but you have to respect it," Chamberlain said in the clubhouse before last night's rain-delayed game. "I've been in his situation and it's just one of those deals where you can't stop learning. There's something to learn from everything."

To this day many have blamed the way Chamberlain, who experienced shoulder issues in 2008 when his transition to a starter began, was handled for his inconsistencies since then. Chamberlain isn't one of them.

He, of course, has had plenty that has gone on since then. He underwent Tommy John surgery on his elbow in June 2011 and, ahead of schedule in rehabbing from that, suffered a severe ankle injury in a trampoline accident in late March of this year.

"I've never been a big 'Why?' guy," he said. "Is it to say if I didn't have limitations I wouldn't have blown out [last year]? We'll never know. I don't really think about it. It's been good. I've learned a lot since then."

With no definitive studies showing precisely how to handle a young arm, Chamberlain isn't sure what to think.

After all, it's been somewhat forgotten that Chamberlain pitched reasonably well out of the bullpen in the 2009 postseason, going 1-0 with a 2.84 ERA as the Yankees won the World Series.

"Do you know if you throw 214 innings at the age of 22 you're going to blow out? No. Nobody knows," Chamberlain said. "You do X and then does Y happen? Yes and no. There's cases for both. It's an argument you can have but it's not really an argument because there's not a right or wrong answer."

Chamberlain, who doesn't know Strasburg, said if asked, his advice would be simple.

"Stay patient," he said. "Just because you're not pitching in games, there's so many other ways you can get better. Obviously he worked hard to get back to pitch the way he has as effective as he has, that's probably a tribute to his work ethic and desire to be better. Find an area where you can get better, whether it's watching video, working in the weight room, find something. There's always a way to get better.

"Just because you're not pitching, it doesn't mean you can't get better."

Notes & quotes: About 1 hour, 20 minutes before Wednesday night's scheduled first pitch, the Yankees announced Robinson Cano would not be in the lineup because of a stiff neck . . . Alex Rodriguez (left fifth metacarpal fracture) walked through the clubhouse Wednesday without a brace on his left hand. "It was good," A-Rod said of the X-ray he underwent Tuesday night. "We have another one Sunday and after that one we'll have news."

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