Before last night's game Joe Girardi said while today's appearance won't be make-or-break for Joba Chamberlain, it was time for the righty to start showing the manager something, saying Chamberlain had to "pick it up."
Girardi repeated that theme this morning before leaving for Clearwater.
"I told him just pitch, just do what you have to do to show us is basically what I told all five of the guys," Girardi said. "We're not expecting you to work on things anymore, in a sense, we're expecting you to compete and show us what you got."
Girardi is interested how Chamberlain responds.
"You want to see how they respond in these types of situations where it's competition with four other teammates," Girardi said. "To me, the competition really has to be within yourself; how do I get better, how do I perform at a high level? You can't be concerned about what other people are doing. Sometimes that's hard to do."
Girardi said in the case of Phil Hughes, who pitched well last night, and Chamberlain a safety net of sorts is built in to the competition as they know the bullpen is the likely landing spot if the rotation is not. The manager said he doesn't think that has had an impact on how Chamberlain has performed to this point.
"Could be, I can't really tell you," Girardi said. "Obviously if you don't win the fifth spot and you go to your bullpen, it's a lot better place to be than if you don't win the fifth spot and you go back to the minor leagues. But I still think whoever's not starting will be disappointed. Does the level of disappointment lessen because you're going to the bullpen? Maybe."
Girardi, asked if there was a chance that Chamberlain could be sent to the minors to start in Triple-A, didn't discount that possibility, though parsing his words suggests it has little change of happening. And why would it? If Chamberlain bombs again today and doesn't win the starter's job, what's the benefit of having him stretched out to perform a role he clearly hasn't done well in?
"Those are [things] that we have to look at," Girardi said. "We'll discuss that. But he's had a lot of success out of the bullpen in the past. We put him back there in the playoffs last year and I thought he did a decent job so it's something we have to discuss. But we'll talk about taking the 12 best pitchers."
The first three pitchers today against the Phillies are scheduled to be: Andy Pettitte, Damaso Marte and Chamberlain.
As for the lineup:
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