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Yankees Spring Training: Joba Chamberlain Bigger, But Is That Better?

Have we moved on from the 'Joba Rules' to the 'Joba Jokes' when it comes to the New York Yankees' relief pitcher? Joba Chamberlain's ....  umm ... bulk seems to be an ... umm ... big topic at New York Yankees Spring Training this week.

There is all sorts of discussion about Joba's weight, which isn't being helped by the fact that neither Chamberlain nor anyone from the Yankee heirarchy will tell us exactly what Joba weighs.

Chamberlain was a rotund, and not exactly in-shape looking 230 pounds a year ago. Everyone, Chamberlain included, admits he is bigger in 2011. Joba claims all the new weight is muscle, built thanks to the new gym he installed at his home this winter.

Others aren't too sure.

But what kind of a message does it send when a pitcher like Joba Chamberlain -- who has gone from flame-throwing phenom with unlimited potential in 2007 to potential flameout in 2011 -- comes to training camp without a clear role in the Yankees' bullpen and without any guarantees about his future, but with a gut that would make CC Sabathia blush?

Worse than that, when questioned about it, what sort of attitude does it convey when that same Joba Chamberlain lapses into an "I've-been-in-this-game-a-long-time-and-I know-what-I'm-doing" routine to deflect attention from what anyone's eyes can see without the help of a scale?

Who does this guy think he is, Mariano Rivera?

Even the Yankees are wondering if this is a new and improved Joba, or a sloppy, out of shape 'I don't care anymore' Joba.

"You do think about what it says," manager Joe Girardi responded to what it means that a player in a battle for a lesser job — and maybe even a roster spot — has opened up questions about his conditioning.

In the end all anyone will care about is whether or not Chamberlain pitches better than he did a year ago. If he is out of shape, though, that is not a good way to begin.