Asked how this year's Yankee roster stacks up with last year's, Joba Chamberlain didn't pause.
"I think we retooled great," Chamberlain said last night at the Grand Hyatt in Manhattan, where he was to receive a Munson Award for his philanthropic work in the community at the 30th Thurman Munson dinner.
The righthander, who said he will head to Tampa Feb. 9, then analyzed general manager Brian Cashman's moves to this point.
"I think Curtis [Granderson] is going to be great for us because he's going to be in a different role than he was in Detroit," said Chamberlain, perhaps alluding to the possibility of Granderson playing leftfield. "Having Javy come back and having something to prove, I think that's going to be big for us, too. Nick Johnson being here, a guy that can get on base for us and do those things, and Randy Winn's been at the game a long time."
The players he mentioned will face their share of scrutiny in spring training, but Chamberlain's pursuit of the fifth spot in the rotation will command much of the attention throughout the spring. Among those expected to compete for the spot are Phil Hughes, Alfredo Aceves and Sergio Mitre. Yankees pitchers and catchers report Feb. 17.
"I know there's going to be guys fighting for it also, which makes it even better for me because I love it," Chamberlain said. "I love the competition, I love the fact that we get to push each other and make each other better and in turn make our team better."
Chamberlain, looking forward to attacking the season free of any version of the Joba Rules, said he was preparing to take "the bull by the horns," in the competition.
"I hope they're ready because I worked my tail off to get where I'm at and I hope they did the same," Chamberlain said.
Chamberlain, who threw Monday with CC Sabathia in the lefty's yard in New Jersey, said he feels excellent physically.
"When I started playing catch it was the best my arm's felt in a long time," Chamberlain said. "I actually played catch with CC and we were both talking about how great we feel and I think that's the greatest advantage to playing so late in the year, you don't really lose that much . . . Everything feels great. As far as playing catch and doing all those things, it's gone better than expected."