The conversation had turned to pitching by the time the 2 train rumbled under the Harlem River into Manhattan. Everyone was interested in news about another good start from Ian Kennedy and the progress of Phil Hughes, but Javier just wanted to talk about Joba Chamberlain.
He cleared his throat and made his pitch:
“That kid is something else,” Javier fired. “There are so many great pitchers on this staff and so many talented young arms in this organization, but Joba still stands out.”
Chamberlain’s larger-than-life image is built on exploding fastballs and disappearing sliders that get big outs in big games.
“It’s exciting to watch,” Javier explained. “He always gives you the sense that something amazing is going to happen. And he tops it all off with a fist pump.”
His first relief appearance of the year was amazingly efficient:
1-2 fastball: K
0-2 fastball: K
1-2 slider: K
No fist pump needed in Spring Training.
“He was untouchable,” Javier said. “I know the game doesn’t count and the season is still over a week away, but he looks ready.”
Chamberlain easily slipped back into the bullpen after working as a starter all spring.
“I know he’s gonna be a top-of-the-rotation guy,” Javier admitted. “But I’m glad he’s a reliever for now. He lights up the Stadium when he comes in with the game on the line. He’s not Mariano, but he’s getting there.”
Javier smiled and shrugged:
“There’s just something about Joba.”