While Joe Girardi has told all of his pitchers not to concern themselves with results this early in spring, the two youngest contenders for the fifth spot in the rotation aren't buying it.
Especially Joba Chamberlain who realizes his first two outings, in which he's allowed 11 runs, including six today, haven't been good.
"I understand fully what’s at stake but I also understand there’s no panic button,” Chamberlain said after the Yankees’ 9-8 victory over the Tigers today at Joker Marchant Stadium. “But there’s a sense of urgency.”
Chamberlain cruised early, setting down seven of the first nine hitters he faced before running into fatigue issues.
“I got a little tired,” Chamberlain said. "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.”
Girardi said that none of the starters should be concerned with numbers until their third time out.
“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, 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 [Gerald Laird's grand slam] 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, meanwhile, was OK, giving up one run and three hits in 2 2/3 innings. His primary goal this spring is developing his changeup, which he threw 10 times today. But don't tell him the results don't matter.
"I kind of put a ton of pressure on myself from Day 1," Hughes said. "Whether it be my first bullpen session, I’m going out there and wanting to put every ball I throw on a dime. It’s just the way I am. I’m not going to go out there and say, oh it doesn’t matter because it’s early in spring training. I want to go out there and be good every start and I want every pitch to be perfect. That’s just the way it is. I don’t feel like the pressure’s gaining, if feel it’s always there."
*** Phil Coke had the odd statement of the day, giving off the feeling that he was disrespected somehow by getting traded in the offseason.
“I was very upset,” Coke said before the game. “I mean, it’s a funny thing. You get brought up with a specific team, you spend your whole career there, and you feel like you got kicked to the curb.”
Mark Teixeira kicked Coke in the third, leading off the inning with a monster homer to left-center. Austin Jackson, also involved in the Curtis Granderson deal, went 1-for-4.
*** Greg Golson's two-run homer in the top of the ninth gave the Yankees the 9-8 lead, which righty Ryan Pope protected in the bottom half of the inning to get the save.