Joba's job not defined

TAMPA, Fla. -- Joba Chamberlain doesn't worry about whether he'll wind up in the New York Yankees' rotation or bullpen.

A starter in the minors, Chamberlain became Mariano Rivera's main setup man during the final two months of last season.

The Yankees say the 22-year-old eventually will be a starter, but that he will have an innings limit this year and could start in the bullpen.

"We've approached it in a great way. We're going to go in the beginning and understand there's an innings limit, and I know that," Chamberlain said Monday. "I'm excited to have a new challenge this year."

Chamberlain enters spring training along with two other heralded young pitchers: Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy. The Yankees are relying on youth more than in recent years as they try to dethrone the World Series champ Boston Red Sox.

"They won. Now, it's up to us to take that away," Yankees catcher Jorge Posada said.

BONDS CASE -- The newly installed chief federal prosecutor for Northern California can work directly on the Barry Bonds perjury prosecution and related steroids cases. U.S. Attorney Joseph Russoniello said Monday the Justice Department had cleared him after investigating whether he had a conflict because of his work in private practice. He was sworn in as U.S. attorney on Jan. 4. Russoniello, who declined to discuss the details, didn't attend Friday's sentencing of former New York Mets clubhouse attendant Kirk Radomksi, who received five years probation and an $18,575 fine after pleading guilty to distributing steroids and laundering money.

SHORT HOPS -- First baseman Doug Mientkiewicz, who caught the final out in 2004 that gave the Red Sox their first World Series championship in 86 years, agreed to a minor league contract Monday with the Pirates. ... Craig Biggio agreed to a three-year personal services contract with the Astros, similar to deals the team struck with former stars Nolan Ryan, Roger Clemens and Jeff Bagwell. He'll work as a special assistant to the general manager, helping coach young players as well as assisting the Astros on the business side.