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Joba's first start to come Tuesday

Joba's first start to come Tuesday

MINNEAPOLIS -- Joba Chamberlain is set to bid farewell to the bullpen and join the Yankees' rotation on Tuesday, drawing his first starting assignment against the Blue Jays in the Bronx.

Manager Joe Girardi announced the move on Friday prior to the Yankees' game against the Twins in Minnesota, officially completing Chamberlain's transition from relief work.

The 22-year-old right-hander will be permitted to throw 65-70 pitches in the outing, making his first big league start since he was converted into a dominant setup reliever and promoted to the Major Leagues last season to help the Yankees in their playoff push.

"I'm excited just for the opportunity to continue to help the team win ballgames," Chamberlain said. "It's been fun continuing to extend and get lengthened out. It feels like it started about forever ago, but it came about real quick. I know I've got to continue to get better and keep getting stronger in my legs and keep throwing good [bullpen sessions]."

The decision to start Chamberlain on Tuesday was made beginning with conversations that took place during the Yankees' off-day on Thursday involving Girardi and general manager Brian Cashman.

Though Girardi did not want to divulge all of the specifics that went into the move, he said one major point was that the Yankees could set their rotation to allow Andy Pettitte to pitch on regular rest on Monday in Minnesota. That will allow Chamberlain to stand on the center of the field in the Bronx on Tuesday and doff his cap for the national anthem before a friendly crowd.

"I guess it's a little bit of an advantage, being at home," Chamberlain said. "Just having those people behind us and the atmosphere that you're accustomed to, it's going to help. It's going to be comforting."

Chamberlain's addition to the rotation took place without requiring an assignment to the Minor Leagues, as many had originally thought it would. In his final relief appearance on Wednesday, Chamberlain struck out three in 1 1/3 innings of relief in Baltimore, earning a hold in the Yankees' 4-2 victory over the Orioles.

Chamberlain only threw 28 pitches before yielding to closer Mariano Rivera for the ninth inning, but he threw 27 more in the bullpen under simulated conditions to inch his pitch count up to 55 for the evening.

Though he did not face live hitters through the whole outing, Girardi said he was not concerned by Chamberlain going through Toronto's order a second -- and perhaps third -- time on Tuesday.

"He hasn't done it at this level, but he's done it before," Girardi said. "He's aware of what he has to do. The bottom line is, when you go through a lineup the second and third times, you just have to continue to make pitches. If you make pitches, you're going to do well."

Chamberlain insisted that he would not change his demeanor now that he is moving back to the rotation. He continues to work on his curveball and changeup, considered his third and fourth pitches, but he said he will not become a completely different pitcher just because of his new role.

"I'm excited just for the opportunity to continue to help the team win ballgames. It's been fun continuing to extend and get lengthened out. It feels like it started about forever ago, but it came about real quick. I know I've got to continue to get better and keep getting stronger in my legs and keep throwing good [bullpen sessions]."
-- Joba Chamberlain

"That's a big misconception," Chamberlain said. "I'm going to need those pitches, but I can't get away from what got me to the point where I'm at. You don't have to go away from the fastball and slider to get outs, because it's no secret those are my two best pitches."

Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter said he thought Chamberlain might have to take a deep breath or two to adjust to the change.

"I'm sure he'll be pumped up," Jeter said. "You've got to try to keep your emotions in check, because when you're starting, it's a little different than coming in from the bullpen for one inning."

Girardi acknowledged that Chamberlain might not have started yet had right-hander Ian Kennedy made it through his start on Tuesday healthy, but the skipper said that he did not feel that they were rushing Chamberlain. According to their plan set earlier this year, the Yankees would have been increasing Chamberlain's pitch count to the 65-70 level at this time anyway.

Going forth, Chamberlain will now be considered a regular member of the five-man rotation, and in each outing, he can add 10-15 pitches until he reaches the neighborhood of 100.

"We've charted out that he can go every five days," Girardi said. "As we've said all along, we'll watch his innings, but we feel that we're pretty safe with that."

Chamberlain said that the general area of 65-70 pitches suggested by pitching coach Dave Eiland for Tuesday would, in the best case, allow him to perhaps touch the sixth inning. Girardi seemed as though he would be satisfied if Chamberlain was able to offer five 15-pitch innings, though that might be asking a lot.

"Obviously, you want him to have a low pitch count," Girardi said.

In Chamberlain's absence from the bullpen, the Yankees plan to hand the eighth-inning setup role over to Kyle Farnsworth, who has pitched well for the most part this season, compiling a 4.24 ERA in 23 1/3 innings and appearing in 22 games.

Chamberlain is 1-2 with a 2.28 ERA in 20 relief appearances for the Yankees this season. In 23 2/3 innings, he has allowed 16 hits and six earned runs while walking 11 and striking out 30.

Tuesday will mark Chamberlain's first professional start since July 25, 2007, for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, when he pitched five scoreless innings of four-hit ball against Louisville, walking one and striking out 10 in his International League debut.

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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