Chamberlain rebounds in win over Reds

March 10, 2009 7:31:43 PM PDT
Joba Chamberlain and the New York Yankees can relax a little bit. Chamberlain rebounded from two bad starts by allowing one run and three hits over three innings in the Yankees' 7-1 victory over the Cincinnati Reds on Tuesday night.

"I'd be lying if I didn't say it's a sigh of relief just because there is a sense of urgency to get going," Chamberlain said. "We're less than a month away. You understand there is work to be done, but you also had to have that sense of urgency, also."

Chamberlain struck out three, with his fastball reaching 96 mph.

He threw 20 of 29 pitches for strikes.

"I think it's important to see progress," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "Seeing strikes and his mechanics sound. If you're going to be consistent as a starter, you have be consistent with mechanics. Pretty good tonight. Everything was better. He just looked different."

Alex Gonzalez was the Reds' shortstop for the first time this spring. The 32-year-old infielder, who missed last season because of a broken left knee, played five innings.

Gonzalez is entering the final season of a $14 million, three-year deal. The Reds used a variety of players at shortstop last season and are hoping Gonzalez can play there full-time, settling the infield. He batted .272 with 16 homers and 55 RBIs in 2007.

Shelley Duncan hit a three-run homer and Juan Miranda added a solo shot for the Yankees. Cincinnati's Chris Dickerson had an RBI triple.

Chamberlain gave up seven runs, four hits, and four walks over one inning in his first two starts. Against Team Canada last Thursday, he allowed five runs, one hit and walked four without recording an out.

"I just think he was a little bit out of whack his last start more than anything," Girardi said. "But it's something we worked on a lot with him. We're going to be patient with him. It's not always in the numbers, it's how he throws the baseball."

Chamberlain had been swinging his front leg instead of having it go up during his delivery, something that was addressed by Yankees pitching coach Dave Eiland.

"As soon as I threw my first pitch in the bullpen, it just felt different," Chamberlain said "I felt it from the get-go."

Reds third baseman Edwin Encarnacion, sidelined by a sore left wrist, was back in the lineup and went 0-for-2 with two strikeouts. Right-hander Nick Masset gave up three runs and eight hits in four innings.

Touted infielder Chris Valakia was among a group of players reassigned to Reds minor league camp before the game. He hit .313 with a homer and six RBIs in nine games.

Notes: The Yankees signed a group of players, including Chamberlain, to one-year contracts. Chamberlain's deal, if he's in the majors, is worth around $433,000. Others signings included OF Brett Gardner ($414,000 majors/$95,948 minors), 3B Cody Ransom ($455,100/$66,394), RHP Phil Hughes ($407,650/213,218), RHP Ian Kennedy ($408,925/$123,435), RHP Jose Veras ($432,975/$215,842), LHP Phil Coke ($403,300/$65,000) and RHP Edwar Ramirez ($422,450/$208,809). ... Yankees closer Mariano Rivera (right shoulder surgery) will throw BP for the first time Wednesday and could pitch in a game around March 17. ... New York RHP Chien-Ming Wang threw in the bullpen and will start Friday against Boston. He had his throwing session pushed back one day due to a bad cold. ... Girardi said Veras, Ramirez and Coke have the inside track for bullpen spots based on their performances last season.