TAMPA, Fla. (AP) -Joba Chamberlain could begin this season in the bullpen before moving to the New York Yankees' starting rotation.
Chamberlain, a sensational reliever as a big league rookie last season, is already throwing off a mound - more than two weeks before the start of spring training. The Yankees plan to use him as a starter this year, the role he was accustomed to in the minors and college. But the team wants to limit his overall innings, which means beginning 2008 in the bullpen is one option under consideration.
``We're going to have a plan going into spring training,'' new Yankees pitching coach Dave Eiland said Monday. ``There already has been ideas tossed around. I think we have a pretty good handle on what we're going to do going into it.''
The 22-year-old Chamberlain wasted little time getting back to work Monday. Just hours after receiving an award Sunday night in New York, the hard-throwing right-hander returned to Florida for his second bullpen session.
``We're right on the schedule that's going to lead us up to the opening of camp,'' Eiland said. ``It's a real good situation here.''
Phil Hughes and Jeff Karstens also are working out with Eiland, and both have thrown two mound sessions. Other pitchers, including Ian Kennedy, who don't live near the Yankees' facility are taking part in throwing programs at home.
``It's running along smooth like it always has here,'' Eiland said. ``I've already talked to all the veteran guys, too. We're all on the same page. We're all preparing to get started.''
Eiland thinks the early hands-on sessions with the young pitchers are important.
``Veteran guys, they know what they need to do,'' Eiland said. ``This is Joba's first major league camp. This will be Ian's first major league camp. Phil's going into camp as a member of the team. Now going in, I'm going to know exactly what these guys have been doing for the past month. And I'm preparing them for the program that we're going to be doing in spring training. So that's huge. It's a huge advantage.''
Eiland is entering his first season as Yankees pitching coach. He worked with Chamberlain and Hughes in the minors and spent time with them with the big league club last September.
``You prepare guys and you do the work that you have always done to get them ready to pitch,'' Eiland said. ``Obviously, they're pitching at the highest level now, but they can't be somebody they're not. So you still prepare them and get them ready to attack hitters with their equipment. The game is still the same. You're just facing the best of the best now. You make adjustments. You just don't make any major changes.''

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