Joba Chamberlain had a surprise guest Tuesday in the visitor’s clubhouse at Fenway Park. John Smoltz, who started and relieved for Chamberlain’s beloved Braves and is now an MLB Network analyst, offered the reliever-turned-starter-turned-reliever advice on readjusting to the pen.
“He told me, just always trust your stuff and create a game for yourself out there that you can succeed in,” Chamberlain said. “Know what works for you and what doesn’t, and have fun. He made me understand it’s a one-inning game.”
It served Chamberlain well in the eighth inning of Tuesday’s 6-4 victory over the Red Sox. Joba struck out both batters he faced to end the eighth inning with a one-run lead, perhaps convincing manager Joe Girardi that he is the man to claim the vital setup role.
“It’s one outing, but we know that he’s had a lot of success in the bullpen,” Girardi said. “It’s not going to happen overnight.”
Chamberlain seems the natural choice for the setup role, but Girardi has been slow to anoint him, at least until Chamberlain makes the full adjustment.
“It’s not easy,” Chamberlain said, “but the fact that I’ve done it, I kind of have an idea. It’s [still] a process.”