ESPN.com news services
There reportedly will be a whole new set of "Joba Rules" in 2008.
The New York Post reported Tuesday that New York Yankees phenom Joba Chamberlain will begin the season as Mariano Rivera's setup man, then be sent down to the minors in June to stretch out his arm so he can be part of New York's rotation for the second half.
According to the Post, the Yankees want to limit the 22-year-old Chamberlain to approximately 140 innings in 2008 and starting him out of the bullpen will help to keep his innings count down.
The Post report states that the Yankees will start Chamberlain in the bullpen, not only to protect his arm but to find his successor as setup man. The newspaper reported that the team will audition several young relievers from a group including Alan Horne, Jose Veras, Edwar Ramirez and Ross Ohlendorf in the sixth and seventh innings in the hope they can replace Chamberlain when he moves into the rotation.
A starter in the minors, Chamberlain became Rivera's primary setup man during the final two months of last season.
"We've approached it in a great way. We're going to go in the beginning and understand there's an innings limit, and I know that," Chamberlain said Monday. "I'm excited to have a new challenge this year."
Chamberlain enters spring training along with two other heralded young pitchers: Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy. The Yankees are relying on youth more than in recent years as they try to dethrone the World Series champion Boston Red Sox.
Chamberlain will work with the starting pitchers during the early part of spring training, even if he begins the season in the bullpen. Last year, Chamberlain worked under strict pitch and innings limits, which came to be known as the Joba Rules.
"This game is definitely a marathon, not a sprint, and I understand that," Chamberlain said. "Last year, it was kind of frustrating, having the rules, but you understood what it was about. I understand the work load and what's going to go on, but this is going to be my first go around, so I've got to be patient and learn and understand that I've got to ask questions as I prepare myself for a full season in the big leagues."
Chamberlain has been throwing off a mound for the past month at the Yankees' minor league complex. The on-field success has changed his off-field life, which includes being recognized more in public and invitations to baseball events.
"I definitely got some frequent-flyer miles, I'll tell you that much," Chamberlain said with a smile. "It's just the opportunities that came, and the people that I got to meet was great. If you don't perform on the field, you don't get to do all that great stuff and enjoy yourself in the offseason. It was definitely an honor. Hard works pays off, but you've got to come back and work even harder so you can have that much fun next year."
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.