Joba Chamberlain threw down the gauntlet, though in a decidedly non-aggressive but confident tone, to those he will be competing with for the fifth spot in the rotation.

“I hope they’re ready because I worked my tail off to get where I’m at and I hope they did the same,” said Chamberlain, who was at the Grand Hyatt Tuesday night for the annual Thurman Munson dinner.

As for that competition, Chamberlain, who will head to Tampa Feb. 9, nine days before pitchers and catchers are scheduled to report, is fine with having to fight for the spot.

“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.”

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When a group of us talked to Chamberlain in November at a charity event – Wrap to Rap, which helps kids in foster care – at Madison Square Garden, he said he pays some attention to the Hot Stove season. Tuesday he said he thinks this year’s roster is shaping up as good, if not better, than last year’s that won the World Series.

“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 in left. “Having Javy [Javier Vazquez] 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…I think we retooled great.”