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Chamberlain bigger, but better?

Yankees pitcher Joba Chamberlain, center, is described as “heavier” by general manager Brian Cashman.

Associated Press

Yankees pitcher Joba Chamberlain, center, is described as “heavier” by general manager Brian Cashman.

TAMPA — Brian Cashman wouldn't weigh in on Joba Chamberlain's appearance.

The Yankees reliever reported for spring training visibly larger than last year. Cashman wouldn't give a direct answer Wednesday when asked whether Chamberlain is in shape.

"He's heavier, I'll leave it at that," the general manager said. "He works hard. He's a good kid. He's heavy."

Chamberlain worked out in the offseason in a gym at his house and believes he's in better shape than the past couple of years. "I feel great. I'm stronger physically and better in my bullpens," Chamberlain said. "Everybody is going to say weight, but scales are scales. I'm getting to know my body better. I'm to the point now where I feel comfortable enough to know what I need to do."

Chamberlain and David Robertson, who both had bullpen sessions, are battling for a late-inning role leading to eighth-inning man Rafael Soriano, the former Ray, and closer Mariano Rivera.

"Joba went through all the drills fine," manager Joe Girardi said. "He's had no issues. Weight can be a tricky issue, sometimes, because you're evaluated on how you pitch. A lot of times if you're not pitching well, they'll say you're too heavy. If you're pitching well, no one says a word."

Cashman declined to say whether Chamberlain arrived at camp above the team-suggested weight.

"The bottom line is, he is going to be judged on how he pitches," Girardi said. "Some guys can carry more weight and be successful."

Chamberlain, who lost a competition for the fifth-starter spot to Phil Hughes during spring last year, went 3-4 with a 4.40 ERA in 73 relief appearances.

Jones Drops in: OF Andruw Jones stopped by the clubhouse, two days after his one-year, $2 million contract was finalized. He will be a right-handed-hitting backup in right and left. He made an impact against New York in his rookie season, homering twice for Atlanta at Yankee Stadium in the 1996 World Series opener.

"When I was driving in, I was thinking like, 'Wow, my manager is the catcher that I played against.' That kind of makes me feel really old," said Jones, 33.

He hit .230 with 19 homers and 48 RBIs in 107 games last season with the White Sox. He has experienced some swelling in his left knee during early workouts but said it's no big deal.

Blue Jays: Bautista close to extension

The Blue Jays and 3B Jose Bautista, who hit 54 homers to lead the majors last season, are nearing agreement on a five-year contract extension worth close to $65 million, ESPNDeportes.com reported.

Bautista, 30, was seeking a $10.5 million salary this season, and the team was offering $7.6 million. The sides requested that their arbitration hearing be moved from Monday to Friday as they negotiated toward a new long-term deal.

Bautista is still in Arizona, the Toronto Star reported, while the rest of the Jays are reporting to Dunedin.

GM Alex Anthopoulos declined to discuss details, other than tell the newspaper the sides "continue to have dialogue."

Invited: OF Scott Podsednik agreed to a minor-league contract and has been invited to major-league spring training.

Podsednik, 34, hit .297 with six homers, 51 RBIs and 35 steals last season for the Royals and Dodgers. He has a .279 average and 301 stolen bases in 10 major-league seasons.

Bad Turn: Closer candidate Jon Rauch turned his right ankle walking down a flight of stairs and was held out of bullpen sessions, the Toronto Sun reported. If he passes functioning tests without favoring the ankle, he will throw on the mound, manager John Farrell said.

Phillies: Polanco eager to show he's healthy

CLEARWATER — 3B Placido Polanco showed off the two scars on his left elbow and smiled. No more pain.

"Much better," said Polanco, 35, who had surgery Oct. 29 to remove a dime-sized bone spur and repair a tendon.

To make sure the elbow doesn't become a recurring problem, Polanco said he will wear a protective pad whenever he hits. That's how the injury first occurred, when Polanco was hit by a Tim Hudson pitch April 21.

Polanco hit .298, but he had his worst slugging percentage (.386) and fewest extra-base hits (35) since 2006. After Aug. 1, Polanco had a .319 slugging percentage. The pain, coupled with not being able to fully extend the elbow, drained Polanco of his power.

.fast facts

Blue Jays

Full-squad workout:

Saturday

Start time: 9:30 a.m.

Site: Englebert Complex, 1700 Solon Ave., Dunedin. (Team will dress at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium and bus over.)

Phillies

Full-squad workout:

Saturday

Start time: 10 a.m.

Site: Carpenter Complex and Bright House Field, 601 Old Coachman Road, Clearwater

Yankees

Full-squad workout: Sunday

Start time: 9-9:30 a.m.

Site: George Steinbrenner Field, 1 Steinbrenner Drive (across from Raymond James Stadium), Tampa

Chamberlain bigger, but better? 02/16/11 [Last modified: Thursday, February 17, 2011 6:18pm]

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