Now a member of the first-place Royals, Joba Chamberlain has moved on from his tenure in Detroit … or has he?
The ex-Tiger returned to Comerica Park over the weekend for the first time since being designated for assignment two months ago. The veteran reliever talked about the demise of his former team and took a subtle shot at the fans who often booed him.
"You just see the talent that they have … and at any time they can beat you in a lot of ways," Chamberlain said (via ESPN.com). "I can only imagine how frustrating it is. But it doesn’t suck being in first over here."
Article continues below ...
Chamberlain had a fairly productive 2014 season for the Tigers, but never regained form in 2015, leading to his eventual release in July. The veteran right-hander developed a rocky relationship with the fans during his final months in Detroit and became accustomed to their boos while he was on the mound. But as a guy who spent seven seasons as a New York Yankee, he learned to develop thick skin.
"People forget we’re human beings," Chamberlain said. "We feel just how you feel. I think some people forget that. I understand we get paid a lot of money, but we get paid a lot of money because we can do something that not many people can do. But at the end of the day when you’re booing or saying this, that or the other thing, our family may be in the stands. We hear that. And our family hears that more so than we ever do. My son has heard people call me names that I would never want my son to hear, but people don’t understand that — they don’t relate to that."
The Tigers cut ties with Chamberlain back when they were still in the hunt. But Detroit fell hard and fast, and the Tigers now find themselves in last place in the AL Central — something Chamberlain surely didn’t see coming.
"I mean that’s baseball, though. Sometimes when it’s going, it’s going. When it’s not, it’s not. It’s a game of streaks and a game of limiting damage in all aspects of wins, losses, runs and whatever capacity you try to," Chamberlain said. "It’s crazy to see from the time I left they were only like two back and now …"
Despite the harsh criticism, Chamberlain insists he has no hard feelings towards the fans in Detroit.
"At the end of the day, my check clears and I’m having a good time doing what I do."
The Royals are on the verge of clinching their second consecutive postseason berth, but Chamberlain might have to keep his champagne celebration on ice. Despite his prior experience (four postseasons with the Yankees and one with the Tigers, in 2014), he is not expected to make the Royals’ postseason roster.