Right-handed reliever Joba Chamberlain didn’t just return to familiar territory as a Nebraska native whose contract was selected by the Royals on Monday. He was reunited with one of the most influential coaches of his career.
Royals pitching coach Dave Eiland was the Yankees minor league pitching coordinator in 2006 when Chamberlain was drafted. They were with the parent club in 2009, when the Yankees won the World Series.
Chamberlain worked as a starter that year, posting a 9-6 record and picking up a victory in the World Series.
“If anybody knows me, it’s him,” Chamberlain said. “I’m looking forward to getting back with him and talking about some things.”
Chamberlain and Louis Coleman joined the Royals on Monday, with Yohan Pino and infielder Dusty Coleman designated for assignment.
Chamberlain signed a minor-league contract with the Royals on Aug. 16 and pitched eight games for Class AAA Omaha, going 1-0 with a 6.43 ERA in seven innings. Chamberlain opened the year with the Detroit Tigers and went 0-2 with 4.09 ERA.
Coleman has pitched for the Royals in each of the last five seasons. He was 8-2 with a 1.69 ERA with nine saves in 38 appearances at Omaha.
Chamberlain called this a “fun year,” but it seemed like more of a summer of discovery.
“It’s another chapter in my life that’s kind of taken some turns,” Chamberlain said. “I didn’t spend much time in the minor leagues when I first starter. When I went back, it kind of gives you a better appreciation. Sometimes you need to take a step back to take two steps forward.
“It was fun getting to know those kids and hang out, and I learned just as much from them as hopefully they did from me. It was a very interesting and fun experience and I enjoyed every single minute of it.”
What Chamberlain didn’t enjoy was the football opener for his alma mater, Nebraska, as he was reminded, lost to Brigham Young on Saturday on a final play Hail Mary.
“Really”? That’s going to be brought up?” Chamberlain joked.