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Chamberlain called up, Giambi activated

08/07/2007 8:17 PM ET
By The Associated Press
TORONTO (AP) -- Joba Chamberlain joined the New York Yankees' bullpen on Tuesday, adding a hard-throwing pitcher to a bullpen that has struggled.

The 21-year-old from Lincoln, Nebraska, was taken by the Yankees with the 41st pick in last year's amateur draft and sped through their minor league system. He said it felt "surreal" when he walked into the visiting clubhouse.

"Things are starting to slow down a little bit and the best is yet to come," he said. "I'm ready to explode. I can't wait to go out there and let it go."

Chamberlain was 9-2 with a 2.45 ERA at three stops this year, striking out 135 batters in 88 1-3 innings and holding batters to a .198 average.

"It's been an adjustment but learning on the job is the best way to do it," Chamberlain said.

New York also activated Jason Giambi, who had been on the disabled list since May because of a foot injury.

After playing for the University of Nebraska, Chamberlain pitched in the Hawaiian Winter League, then began the 2007 season at Class-A Tampa before working his way to Triple-A, where he was converted into a reliever.

"It's one of those things that seemed to be crying out to happen because of what he's been doing," Yankees manager Joe Torre said.

Chamberlain started the year at Class-A Tampa, going 4-0 with a 2.03 ERA in seven starts, then was promoted to Double-A Trenton, where he went 4-2 with a 3.35 ERA in seven starts and one relief appearance. The Yankees moved him to the bullpen, and he didn't allow a run in eight innings during one start and two relief appearances at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes Barre. He struck out eight batters in three scoreless innings of relief.

"You hear so many positive things about him," Torre said. "We just have to make sure we understand how old he is, how much experience he has and just go accordingly from there. At this point I don't know how we're going to use him but we'll get him a taste."

Torre said he will be cautious with Chamberlain and intended to bring him in to start an inning for his debut.

"This is all new for him," Torre said. "This is not something he's been doing all year. We'll take it slow."

Roving pitching instructor Nardi Contreras said Chamberlain was "like a man among boys" when he first saw him at Tampa.

"His curveball is probably as hard as some guys' slider in the big leagues," Contreras said. "He's very special. He's altogether different than other guys we've brought up."

Chamberlain's promotion led to a flood of congratulatory messages from family and friends.

"I think I've got about fifty thousand text messages to respond to," Chamberlain said, adding that his parents plan to join him either in Toronto or when the Yankees head to Cleveland for the weekend.

To make room on the roster, the Yankees optioned right-handed reliever Brian Bruney to Triple-A and designated infielder Miguel Cairo for assignment.

Giambi tore tissue in his foot May 30 and started a rehab stint last weekend at Tampa, where he played four games. He played four more with the Red Barons, going hitless after a solo home run in his first at-bat.

Giambi batted .262 with seven homers and 23 RBIs in 45 games before the injury.

"I'm just excited to be back," Giambi said. "The team is playing great. I just came back to try and help the ballclub any way I could."

Giambi played some first base during his rehab stint to make himself more versatile, but Torre said he'll likely use Giambi as a DH before putting him in the field.

"I'd like to have that option," Torre said. "I have no plans to do that right now."

Bruney was 2-1 with a 3.40 ERA in 50 games. He struggled in July, allowing nine of his 18 total earned runs this season over 10 appearances totaling 6 2-3 innings.

Cairo batted .252 with no homers and 10 RBIs in 54 games. The Yankees have 10 days to trade Cairo, release him or send him to the minor leagues.

"Right now I don't want to think about it," Cairo said. "Right now I'm just trying to deal with it and take it."

Torre said the emergence of outfielder Shelley Duncan and the acquisition of infielder Wilson Betemit made Cairo expendable.

Duncan started at designated hitter Tuesday as outfielder Hideki Matsui got the day off after starting at DH on Monday. Torre said Matsui will return to the outfield for Wednesday's series finale.

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