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Yankees pitcher talks baseball, Bulls

Joba Chamberlain – a native of Lincoln, Nebraska – is just 22 years old. Despite his young age, he is already dubbed by many as “the next great New York Yankee pitcher.”

Chamberlain made his major league debut Aug. 7, 2007. He pitched 24 innings last season – not including the playoffs – posting a 0.38 earned run average.

He attended the 2008 USF Baseball and Softball Leadoff Banquet as part of a panel of present and former major league players who talked about the game and their experiences.

The Bulls will play the New York Yankees in an exhibition game Friday at Legends Field. It will be the first meeting between the two teams. Chamberlain concluded the evening with a challenge for Bulls shortstop and leading returning hitter Addison Maruszak.

“Addison, you might not want to bring a bat to the game. Just bring your helmet,” Chamberlain said. “I’ll bet you a dinner, anywhere you want, that you won’t sniff first base on Friday.” Chamberlain also spoke with the Oracle about his college experience and life philosophy and gave some advice to the USF pitching staff.

Oracle: Is coming to spring training this year any different than last year?

Chamberlain: It’s a lot different. I feel more part of the team now compared to when I was in my rookie year. The team now knows me more as a person.

O: You started off at a small college, then made your way to the University of Nebraska and then to the majors. What were your motivations?

JC: My dream had always been to play in the majors. I was dedicated and I worked very hard to get where I am today. I believe that if you work hard you can get anywhere you want.

O: How do you make it seem like pressure doesn’t affect you on the mound, especially in an environment like Yankee Stadium?

JC: I get in trouble when I think a lot, so I try not to think when I’m on the mound and focus on the task at hand. Mariano (Rivera, legendary Yankees closer) mentors me and helps me with the mindset of never wanting to fail.

O: Any advice for USF pitchers?

JC: Work hard, be patient and believe in yourself. Surround yourself with good people. That is the most important thing. Don’t change because you are in the majors or because you are a star.

O: Do you think any of the USF hitters will be able to hit your 100 mph fastball or your slider this Friday?

JC: Maybe, if they close their eyes (laughs).

Tino Martinez, current USF assistant coach and former Yankees first baseman, overheard The Oracle’s final question, and gave a simple answer.

“The answer is no, they won’t,” Martinez said.