Wood has Chamberlain's former role, so Joba waits his turn

Kerry Wood #39 of the New York Yankees Kerry Wood #39 of the New York Yankees walks back to the dugout after he was taken out of the game in the top of the eighth inning against the Minnesota Twins during Game Three of the ALDS part of the 2010 MLB Playoffs at Yankee Stadium on October 9, 2010 in the Bronx borough of New York City. Photo Credit: Getty

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As Joba Chamberlain spoke with reporters in front of his locker Friday, Kerry Wood snuck behind him and borrowed something from the locker.

Kind of like the way Wood has borrowed Chamberlain's former job as the Yankees' eighth-inning guy.

In each of the three games of this Division Series sweep of the Twins, Wood was Mariano Rivera's main setup man, and he pitched very well in the first two. Game 3? Not so much, but the Yankees won anyway.

Chamberlain? He didn't throw a pitch in the entire series.

Once a sensation as a setup man, Chamberlain now is Joe Girardi's fourth-most-trusted righthanded reliever, behind Rivera, Wood and David Robertson.

Rivera and Wood each pitched in all three games. Robertson pitched in Game 1, warmed up in Game 2 and helped rescue Wood in Game 3. Chamberlain still is waiting for his first appearance.

He was asked Friday if he was getting anxious to pitch. "I'm anxious to pitch any day," he said. "So, yeah, I guess so. Does that answer your question? No, I don't want to pitch at all. I want to sit there and watch."

Chamberlain was smiling when he said that. He understands that other guys are pitching better and couldn't argue with the bullpen's success in the first two games: five scoreless innings, including 12/3 from Wood.

"We just get ready in the fifth inning and whoever they call, that's kind of just the way we go," Chamberlain said. "We understand we've only got that one lefty [Boone Logan], so in certain situations he'll be used. Depending on the hitter coming afterwards, we'll kind of figure out if it's going to be me or Robbie."

When the season started, it was supposed to be Chamberlain in the eighth inning, no questions asked. But he didn't hold the role, and Brian Cashman acquired Wood from the Indians at the July 31 trade deadline.

Wood has been a revelation since. He was 2-0 with a 0.69 ERA in 24 regular-season games as a Yankee, with 31 strikeouts and only 14 hits allowed in 26 innings. He allowed a double, two singles and a walk and picked up only one out in the eighth last night, but Logan and Robertson stranded three runners to minimize the damage.

"Kerry Wood has been outstanding for us," said Girardi, his former catcher with the Cubs when Wood was a Roger Clemens-esque phenom. "What I've seen is consistency in throwing the ball over the plate where he wants to and using three pitches: his fastball, curveball and his cutter."

Wood has earned a fan in Chamberlain, too.

"He's terrible," Chamberlain joked. "No. Awesome. I've been asked this question a billion times, but we all know the pitcher he has been and will be, but I think why he's so successful is the type of person he is. It's been fun to have him down there. It's weird still to see him in a Yankee uniform. I mean, I love it to death, but to see him wearing No. 39 when I'm so used to seeing a No. 34 on his back, it's still weird."

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