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New York Yankees pitcher Joba Chamberlain gets start in empty stadium

TAMPA — RHP Joba Chamberlain made a big start in an empty ballpark.

Bidding for the fifth spot in the Yankees rotation, Chamberlain allowed two runs and six hits over five innings in an intrasquad game Monday. The contest at Steinbrenner Field was not open to the public, so only a handful of people were in the 11,076-seat stadium.

"I felt like I was back in the Florida State League where it all started," said Chamberlain, who pitched for Class A Tampa of the FSL in 2007. "That was kind of the mind-set I took out of it, and I think that was good for me."

Chamberlain had one strikeout and one walk and induced three double plays.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi and other team officials will meet Wednesday to discuss the final rotation spot. The winner could be announced Thursday or Friday.

"It seems like it gets muddled more every day," Girardi said.

LESS IMPRESSIVE: RHP Phil Hughes, one of the rotation candidates, struggled in a 9-7 loss to the Phillies. He gave up four runs and five hits, three of them homers, in 41/3 innings.

"I felt really good with all my pitches," Hughes said. "It seemed like every fly ball that went out there was either off the wall or would leave the yard."

PLAYER RETURNED: Yankees Rule 5 draft pick Jamie Hoffmann cleared outright waivers and will be returned to the Dodgers. The outfielder, 25, was acquired from the Nationals in December.

Jays: Marcum to start opening day

DUNEDIN — RHP Shaun Marcum, who hasn't thrown a pitch in the majors in a year and a half, was named the Blue Jays' opening day starter, a role that had been reserved for RHP Roy Halladay for the past seven years.

Marcum, 28, leads Toronto's rotation candidates with 64 career starts. But he missed most of 2008 and all of last season after having Tommy John surgery.

He'll have big shoes to fill when he takes the mound April 5 in Texas against the Rangers. Halladay, the former Cy Young Award winner who had spent 12 seasons with the Blue Jays, was traded to the Phillies during the offseason.

"We've turned that page," Marcum said. "I know I have, and I think a lot of the other guys have turned the page, pretty much."

Phils: Closer Lidge unveils new pitch

CLEARWATER — Closer Brad Lidge, coming back from offseason elbow and knee surgeries, allowed one run on two hits and a walk and struck out one in one inning against the Pirates in his second minor-league game this spring.

Lidge, who is likely to start the season on the disabled list, had some success with a two-seam fastball. He allowed back-to-back doubles to start the inning, had a quick meeting with C Tim Kennelly then started throwing his new pitch and getting swings and misses.

"I felt really good about being able to make an adjustment and then get some guys out after that," he said.

FAST FACTS

Yankees

Where: George Steinbrenner Field, corner of Dale Mabry and Martin Luther King, Tampa. Today: Off. Information: yankees.com

Phillies

Where: Bright House Field, 601 Old Coachman Road, Clearwater. Today: vs. Rays, 1:05, Clearwater. Information: phillies.com

Blue Jays

Where: Dunedin Stadium,

373 Douglas Ave., Dunedin. Today: Off. Information: bluejays.com

New York Yankees pitcher Joba Chamberlain gets start in empty stadium 03/22/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, March 23, 2010 8:25am]

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