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A swift kick in the...

Joba Chamberlain said he took note of the tone of Joe Girardi's message last week, which the manager repeated to the media yesterday when he said Chamberlain needed to "pick it up." 

Chamberlain did today, allowing one run and two hits -- with one walk and three strikeouts -- in three innings [a bottom of the ninth was played but with the Phillies ahead, Chamberlain's 1-2-3 inning, including two strikeouts, don't officially count].

"Sometimes you need a kick in the rear," Chamberlain said.

He added: “Joe does a great job of motivating his players and pushing them and getting what he needs. I have to give him some of the credit.”

Girardi said "pace" was the most striking differences he saw in Chamberlain today compared to his last outing, March 10 against the Tigers, when he allowed six runs in 2 1/3 innings.

“I thought he worked quicker today, I thought his mechanics were sound today,” Girardi said. “And he attacked. He was ahead in the count most of the day. He had fastball command today.”

Chamberlain gave an honest answer of "I don't know" when asked why it seemed he needed period reminding of the things he needs to do to be successful.

“That’s why this game is so hard," he said. "I had a great week of work, going to get back after it tomorrow and go from there.”

Girardi said Chamberlain will likely get a true start -- he came in in the sixth today -- next week, with Andy Pettitte likely getting the start against minor leaguers.

He said a bad outing wouldn't have necessarily ended Chamberlain's chances at the fifth spot but clearly today was important.

"I’m glad these guys are making our decision tough," Girardi said. "It’s going to be a tough decision...Obviously that was good stuff today [from Chamberlain]. We want to see it again."

*** Pettitte, in his first start of the spring, gave up two runs and five hits in four innings.

"Everything was real good, I was real happy," Pettitte said. "I was happy with my command, you know. Walked one guy but threw a 3-2 curveball, trying to make a pitch right there, just trying to put myself in a situation where if I need to make that pitch, to start working on stuff. So all in all, it was just good. I felt good with my mechanics."

*** Damaso Marte, who took a line drive off his lower back off the bat of Ryan Howard, said he felt better after ice treatment.

“He’s going to be sore,” Girardi said. “I asked him if he had Bud’s signature on there, he said, ‘just seams.’ But he’s going to be OK. He’s supposed to throw Friday again, we’ll have to wait and see.”

*** And this last reminder, Live Chat here tomorrow morning at 11.

New York Sports