Saturday, February 27, 2010

Hope 5th starter fight stays clean

The battle for the fifth spot in the New York Yankees starting rotation is one of the few major questions about the team. Although several pitchers are up for the spot, it's generally portrayed as a battle between Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes. Both have made clear that they want to be starters even though the loser has the consolation prize of being Mariano Rivera's set-up man (and perhaps his eventual successor). The fight gets in full gear when the exhibition season starts next week. Let's hope it's a clean fight.

Even though manager Joe Girardi said the players won't be judged until the baseball games start, the pitchers have made it clear that they are already in full competition mode. There's nothing wrong with a little competition, as long as it doesn't create a difficult situation when one of them loses the fight. I'm not saying that is definitely going to happen, but both players have engaged in immature behavior that could signal problems, whether it's the raucous celebrations by Joba after a strikeout or Hughes yelling at an umpire during his playoff struggles last year.

Joba and Hughes are young players at the start of what the Yankees hope will be long, successful careers in pinstripes. They have both shown flashes of greatness that validate the Yankees' commitment to them. Let's hope this 5th starter fight doesn't represent a step backward for either one of them.

Thanks to jcasabona via Wikipedia for the photo.

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