Joba Chamberlain was brought up to the Yankees on Aug. 7 to serve as a setup reliever. The 6-foot-2, 230-pound right-hander hasn't allowed a run in his first nine innings over seven appearances, striking out 15 of the 32 batters he's faced while walking just two. New York still plans to develop the Lincoln, Neb., native as a starter, however, the club wanted to solidify its bullpen for the stretch run and at the same time limit their top prospect's innings this season. Chamberlain was the 41st overall Draft pick coming out of the University of Nebraska, which he helped to the College World Series in 2005. He recently answered some questions from MLBPLAYERS.com:
MLBPLAYERS.com: You seem to have garnered a lot of attention in a short amount of time. Have a lot of media requests been coming your way the past few days?
Chamberlain: Yeah. Things have slowed down a little bit though. I understand it's a part of the game so I'm taking things as they come. It's been a bit of a whirlwind, but things are slowing down and I'm getting a handle on it, I think. I could be doing a lot of worse things than a lot of interviews.
MLBPLAYERS.com: What have you experienced so far?
Chamberlain: I've tried to learn as much as I can. Each outing, I've been able to calm down a bit more as I try to slow the game down. The first few times it seemed that the game was happening real quick. You don't realize how fast you're going at until you slow down a little. The guys around me have helped to slow me down and that's led to me relaxing a little bit.
MLBPLAYERS.com: What is it like pitching in Yankee Stadium?
Chamberlain: Oh it's great. Running out there was something I can't really describe. It was like I couldn't feel my legs. Having always been a starter, until recently, I'm used to a short run to the mound from the dugout. That run from the bullpen can be long after a while. Running out there in front of more than 56,000 people is an incredible feeling. It tells you that your hard work has paid off and one of your dreams has come true.
MLBPLAYERS.com: How have some of the veteran pitchers helped you so far?
Chamberlain: They've really been behind me. A lot of credit goes to those guys for making me feel comfortable in this situation. That has been especially helpful late in the game when the game is a bit tight.
MLBPLAYERS.com: How often do you talk to them?
Chamberlain: Every chance I get and as much as I can. We have guys who have not only been around a while, but they have been through every situation possible. I try to be a sponge.
MLBPLAYERS.com: Back in Spring Training, the plan seemed to be that you might spend the season at Single-A. As the summer progressed, when did you see yourself possibly in this position?
Chamberlain: I didn't have any idea what was going on in terms of the whole deal. My goal was to be in Double-A by the end of the year and that plan sort of got left in the dust somewhere along the way. I got to Scranton and had a start and that went real well. Then I got the news that I was going to move into the bullpen. The media would bring that up, but it wasn't anything I really paid attention to. Things have gone really fast, but it's been a fun ride.
MLBPLAYERS.com: What was your initial response to the news that you would become a reliever for now?
Chamberlain: I thought it was great. I saw it as a challenge and I love challenges. I also like to try something new and it was great to try to learn something new on the fly. I've had some great teachers to this point and that's helped me understand life in the bullpen.
MLBPLAYERS.com: What is the biggest change for you to convert to a reliever?
Chamberlain: My workout routine. As a starter, you know when you're going to go out there. You know you have four days to get yourself ready. As a reliever, you have to leave something in your tank. You only have so much, so you have to use it to your fullest.
MLBPLAYERS.com: The coaches here have you on a certain routine as to when you can be used. How do you describe that routine?
Chamberlain: It's different compared to the other relievers here. For every inning I pitch in a given day, they won't have me pitch that next day. So if I pitch three innings in a certain game, I won't pitch in three days. That's an advantage for me because I can work out in between games in a normal manner.
MLBPLAYERS.com: You're known as a power pitcher. What is your repertoire of pitches?
Chamberlain: I throw a fastball, slider, changeup and curveball.
MLBPLAYERS.com: Now that you're a reliever, does that repertoire change in any way?
Chamberlain: Out of the bullpen, you aren't going to face a guy three times in a ballgame so you don't have to worry about setting them up. The focus is heavy on my fastball and slider, but I do like to work the other pitches in. There will be those situations where I have to rely on them, too. I can't leave them behind, especially if I'm struggling to throw my fastball or my slider for a strike. It also helps to keep the hitters a bit more honest.
Jeff Moeller, a freelance writer for MLBPLAYERS.com, is based in Los Angeles. MLBPLAYERS.com is the official Web site of the Major League Baseball Players Association. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.