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New York Yankee notes: Big day for Joba

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After all the arguing, all the back-and-forth between starting and relieving, a full 2009 season spent babied as a starter with the Joba Rules it comes to this for Joba Chamberlain. Pitch well today or accept the fact that you are headed to the New York Yankees bullpen. Maybe forever.

You can, of course, make the argument that this is not fair to Joba. And, of course, you would be right -- in a way. His body of work over the past couple of seasons, and the investment the Yankees have made in trying to build him into a full-fledged starter have to count for something.

The reality is, though, that Joba is in a spring competition for a starting spot. And, if this was a NASCAR race, Joba and his 27.00 spring ERA would not even be on the lead lap.

Here is what Yankee pitching coach Dave Eiland said about Chamberlain.

"He needs to have a good outing," Eiland said. "We've got to start seeing some results. We've got to start seeing some crispness to his stuff, consistency and command, not having to labor for outs every at-bat. We want to see these guys take charge of the game, to dictate the pace."

To stay with the NASCAR analogy, it is clear after four impressive innings Tuesday that Phil Hughes is in the pole position.

"He threw the ball extremely well tonight," Girardi said. "Attacked the strike zone. Had a good curveball. Threw some good changeups tonight. He let his fielders do the work, too. He looked good tonight. It seems like his fastball command gets better and better each outing, and that’s important."

My expectation, honestly, is that Joba will pitch well today. He is a guy who needs motivation, adrenaline, a challenge to bring out his best. My other expectation is that no matter what he does at this point, he will land in the bullpen.

Here are a few other notes.