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Rothschild: Joba could make bullpen nasty

New York Yankees relief pitcher Joba Chamberlain (62)

New York Yankees relief pitcher Joba Chamberlain (62) throws in the bottom of the eighth inning against the Toronto Blue Jays at Yankee Stadium. (July 4, 2010) Credit: Newsday / Christopher Pasatieri

TAMPA, Fla. - Larry Rothschild looks at the Yankees' bullpen and sees Nasty Boys potential in it.

And in his eyes, Joba Chamberlain is a big part of that.

Rothschild, the Yankees' new pitching coach, was Lou Piniella's bullpen coach when the 1990 Reds won the World Series, in large part because of shutdown late-inning relievers Rob Dibble, Norm Charlton and Randy Myers, a trio dubbed "The Nasty Boys.''

Rothschild, 56, thinks Chamberlain could be the primary seventh-inning bridge - along with lefthanders Boone Logan and Pedro Feliciano as needed - to newly signed Rafael Soriano and Mariano Rivera.

"The stuff is there," Rothschild said Thursday.

Chamberlain began last season as Joe Girardi's setup man for Rivera but lost the job in late July. He finished the season with a 4.40 ERA but actually pitched better than that in most outings; when he gave up runs, they came in bunches, distorting his ERA. Chamberlain did finish strong, going 2-0 with a 2.15 ERA and striking out 30 in 291/3 innings in 30 games from July 28 through the end of the regular season. He held batters to a .228 on-base percentage in that span.

"Is his role as important?" Rothschild said of Chamberlain not pitching the eighth. "Well, I think it could be. I think if you wipe out the eighth and ninth with guys, then you start wiping out the seventh. Back in 1990 in Cincinnati, we wiped out games from the sixth inning on with Dibble, Charlton and Myers. If you can get in those situations, it changes games pretty quickly."

Rothschild talked with Chamberlain shortly after taking over in December, and the two have worked this week at the team's minor-league complex. "He's been great,'' Chamberlain said.

Rothschild said he wants Chamberlain to pitch more off his fastball, echoing what Chamberlain said Wednesday.

"From what he's telling me, his arm feels good, and you can see that there's quickness to it," Rothschild said. "With him, I think, it's settling in more day to day as far as getting it done and getting him throwing the ball downhill, because when he does, the ball comes out really well. Being able to consistently do that , I think the breaking stuff will follow suit off of that."

Rothschild thinks the 25-year-old has struggled living up to the aura that surrounded him after his spectacular debut in 2007.

"There's guys that have gone through worse times than he has,'' Rothschild said. "It's just that he came up so quick and was such a rock star when he came up because of what he did. I saw it on TV and said, wow, that's pretty good stuff. As long as the arm's there and he's got the quickness to it and he maintains it, I think he's capable."

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