Hank Steinbrenner thinks Joba Chamberlain can become an elite starting pitcher but realizes his place is in the bullpen for now.
"We're not going to rush him," the New York Yankees co-chairman said Monday at the team's spring training complex. "I think most people agree with me, including the baseball people and most of the fans, that sooner or later it would be nice if he was a starter."
Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said Steinbrenner and the team's front office were in agreement on the role of the 22-year-old right-hander, who is 1-0 with a 1.42 ERA as Mariano Rivera's setup man this year after going 2-0 with an 0.38 ERA in 19 games when he arrived in the major leagues last season.
"Hank and I talked. We didn't need to," Cashman said. "We were on the same page yesterday. We're on the same page today. And we're on the same page moving forward. Joba Chamberlain is bullpen because it's where he's needed the most right now as well as because he has an innings limit. He can't start because of that innings limit or he'd have to stop starting here at some point."
Cashman expects the switch to the rotation to come sometime this year.
"He'll finish out as a starter. He won't start as a starter," the GM said.
Steinbrenner has high expectations for Chamberlain, comparing his potential to that of Boston ace Josh Beckett.