Joe Girardi said that wasn't the case, but his actions indicated otherwise.
"I don't want to start a thing, 'who's our eighth-inning guy?'" Girardi said after tonight's 3-2 victory over the Indians.
Which, of course, is exactly what he did.
Girardi brought in David Robertson to protect a 3-2 lead after Javier Vazquez walked Michael Brantley to start the eighth. After Asdrubal Cabrera to hit into a double play, Girardi brought in Boone Logan, who struck out Shin-Soo Choo. Girardi said it was strictly a case of liking the matchup of Robertson against Cabrera and then Logan against Choo.
Pressed on that answer, Girardi admitted if Chamberlain was pitching better he wouldn’t be as inclined to look at matchups. Which managers secure with their primary setup men rarely do. Look at Phil Hughes last season. Once he grabbed last year’s setup role, it didn’t matter who was coming up, Hughes was coming in.
“It’s probably fair to say that but he’s struggled a little bit,” Girardi said Chamberlain. “I went with what my gut told me.”
And, truth be told, good for Girardi for doing so. Chamberlain hasn't earned that complete trust and shouldn't be treated as such. Maybe Girardi going with his gut a little more in the eighth instead of turning things over to to Chamberlain will light a bit of a fire under the righty.
For his part, Chamberlain said he “wasn’t surprised” at the moves after seeing Robertson and Logan start warming up when Vazquez took the mound in the eighth and wasn’t upset about what appears to be a demotion. At least for now.
“You have to be ready from the sixth inning on for any situation that may happen,” Chamberlain said. “You have to be ready for any situation and hope the guys that go out there get the job done.”
*** The Chamberlain stuff, though, got pushed to the backburner a little bit as Alex Rodriguez continued his chase for No. 600. He went 0-for-4, with his hardest hit ball going for that strange, and wrongly called based on the replays, double play he hit into in the fourth.
“The key for me is swing at strikes, not try to do too much,” he said. “I’m not really concerned about it. It’s going to come whether it’s this week or next week or next month. At some point it will come. The important thing for me is to stay within the game.”