LAKELAND, Fla. - Joba Chamberlain has heard the message from his manager. The results this early don't matter, and the real evaluation for the fifth spot in the Yankees' rotation won't start until the five contenders' next start, their third.
Chamberlain knows those things to be true, but he also knows he hasn't been very good in two starts this spring in which he's given up 11 runs in 3 2/3 innings for an ERA of 27.00.
"I understand fully what's at stake but I also understand there's no panic button," Chamberlain said after the Yankees' 9-8 win over the Tigers yesterday at Joker Marchant Stadium. "But there's a sense of urgency."
After retiring seven of his first nine batters, Chamberlain blew up in a six-run third inning. He allowed six runs, five hits, including Gerald Laird's grand slam, and three walks in 21/3. He was replaced by Hughes, who gave up one run and three hits, which included Ryan Raburn's homer, in 22/3 innings.
"I got a little tired," said Chamberlain, whose start Friday was affected by a flu bug he was fighting. "I was efficient going at the strike zone. I think we were at 28 pitches through the first two innings. I went in for the third, got the first out and got a little tired."
Joe Girardi said before and after the game that none of the starters should start worrying about numbers until the third time out. Two times through, Alfredo Aceves and Sergio Mitre have looked the best of those contending for the job.
"Don't get caught up in the stats because we're asking guys to do certain things to work on," Girardi said. "It's not fair if you ask them to work on something and say we're going by stats."
Chamberlain got into trouble, as was the case at times last year, trying to get inside on hitters.
"I did see some good things but he got into a couple of situations," Girardi said. "The first hit that started that inning was trying to go in, the next hit was trying to go in and the home run was trying to go in. So you look at that and he was ahead in the count, was trying to work on something and he didn't get it in there. What it tells me is we need to work more at it."
Hughes continues to work on his changeup and threw it 10 times Wednesday. He said the pitch was better than it was on Friday, though two bad ones put him in a 3-and-1 hole to Raburn. "Then I grooved a fastball and he put a good swing on it," Hughes said.
He said usually he might have thrown a cutter instead of the changeups, but this is the time to work on a pitch he thinks he'll need as a starter.
"I'm looking to be successful this season and not impress someone in spring training," Hughes said. "I'm trying to get my changeup down to where it can be a useful pitch for me, and it's never going to get there for me if I don't throw it."