Yankees manager Joe Girardi and general manager Brian Cashman say they have agreed upon a regimen for former phenom Joba Chamberlain that will enable him to keep building up his arm strength.
"It's similar to how we have handled Joba before when we were trying to make him into a starter," Girardi said of his setup man, who has a 5.82 ERA on the season. "Only now, instead of increasing his stamina so he can throw 100-plus pitches, we're building it up for eight-hour shifts of manual labor, like picking up boxes and carrying around two-by-fours."
Cashman says that preparing Chamberlain for employment following his bust of a major league career is evidence of what a class organization the Yankees are.
"We treat everyone like family," he said. "Do you think Bernie Williams just picked up the classical guitar? Right. Like professional athletes are interested in things. No, what happened was in 2003, Joe Torre saw someone blow a 86 mph fastball past Bernie and, that very night, signed him up for guitar lessons."
While that led to Williams' post-baseball musical career, other such efforts have not proven to be as fruitful. The Yankees tried to train Hideki Irabu to be a competitive eater, "but he wouldn't enter any contests that weren't for soup," said Cashman. "He said chewing made him too tired."
With it now obvious that Chamberlain will never live up to the hype that surrounded his call up to the major leagues back in 2007, the Yankees assume he'll be out of baseball and back in Nebraska before long.
"But we want Joba to know that there is still hope for him," says Girardi. "With hard work, maybe he won't end up in a construction job. Maybe he could be a steamfitter. They actually make pretty good money, you know."