BOSTON -- Joba Chamberlain said he actually heard a couple compliments on his beard Friday night from the fans seated behind the Tigers' bullpen in the right-field seats at Fenway Park. He also heard a fan tell him that UPS was hiring.
"So go get a job then," Chamberlain said back.
Like so many relievers, Chamberlain enjoys going back and forth with the Fenway faithful from the close quarters of the visitors' bullpen. Like so many former Yankees, including Phil Coke, Chamberlain gets more than his fair share of grief when he comes to town.
Some of them are creative. The UPS line was not one of them.
"It's fun. I love the banter between the fans. It's great," Chamberlain said. "Obviously there's a line you don't cross as a fan, but 99 percent of them are good. It makes it fun for us. We're sitting down there, we've got to get up quick, but during the game, you just hear people talking. It's very entertaining.
"And they don't expect you [to respond] half the time, so it's very funny, because you'll catch them off-guard. It's always interesting to see the looks on their faces when you kind of jab back or say something. It's pretty good. The good ones, I always tip my hat to, or say, 'Nice one.' It's always fun."
Though other American League parks, like U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago and Safeco Field in Seattle, can offer a similar atmosphere in terms of proximity between the relievers and the fans, none of them compare to the knowledge of the fans at Fenway, Chamberlain said. They know the game, and they know the background.
And considering their favorite players all had longer beards than Chamberlain, some of them know better than to be hypocrites.
"I was taken aback by the [positive] comments," said Chamberlain, who couldn't grow the beard as a Yankee due to the organization's facial-hair ban. "They were nice."
Scherzer uses curveball to keep Sox guessing
BOSTON -- Max Scherzer joined the Tigers four years ago as a fastball-changeup pitcher who had the makings of a nice slider. It would have been inconceivable back then that he could overcome a changeup on a night that he was having a hard time fooling anyone with the pitch.
On Friday, Scherzer threw the Red Sox a curveball, literally. Actually, he threw quite a few of them.
That Scherzer has trust in his curve is no big surprise. Getting better results on it than his changeup is another matter.
Scherzer did not get a swing-and-miss off his changeup Friday, according to brooksbaseball.net. That's the first time he has come up empty in that category since his last regular-season start in Boston last Sept. 3. On the flip side, his three whiffs on curveballs are more than he has gotten from that pitch in his career. As good as the curveball has become for him, it has usually been good for one or two swings-and-misses a game.
"His curveball was really good last night," pitching coach Jeff Jones said. "He threw some good curveballs that they chased later on in the count. What he wants to do with it is throw it with two strikes. I think his curveball was probably a little bit better than his changeup was, and usually his changeup is always really good.
"That's the nice thing about having a curveball now. I've always felt that the more weapons you have, the better."
Robertson's comeback attempt with Tigers ends
BOSTON -- Nate Robertson's comeback as a sidearming reliever appears to be over, at least from the Tigers' perspective, and possibly his own. The Tigers granted the 36-year-old left-hander his release on Saturday, about two months after signing him to a Minor League contract.
It could be a tough end to a career that brought Robertson onto the mound as a starting pitcher in the World Series back in 2006, then earned him a three-year contract a year later. After injuries and inconsistency, he tried to make it back out of the bullpen, signing with his old club midway through Spring Training looking for a shot.
While Robertson's early numbers were encouraging, his struggles with command and his struggles to retire left-handed hitters proved to be a problem. He walked 13 batters over 21 innings at Triple-A Toledo, and lefty hitters batted .290 against him.
Robertson's inactivity in recent weeks was a bad sign. He pitched just twice in May, and hadn't pitched in a week since walking three batters over 1 2/3 innings with two earned runs allowed against Rochester.
Robertson told MLB.com in a text message Saturday that this was "most likely" his last stop as a player. He had hinted at that when he talked about his comeback attempt last month.
"All is well," Robertson said. "I'm just too old. Gave it a good run, and I really enjoyed it."
Another Mud Hens reliever, Jhan Marinez, was also released. The 26-year-old right-hander signed as a Minor League free agent this past offseason, but never showed the command he needed. He walked 21 batters with 21 strikeouts over 18 1/3 innings, allowing 18 earned runs on 23 hits. He, too, had been knocked down the pecking order, with just two appearances over the last couple weeks.
• The Tigers turned three double plays Friday night behind shortstop Danny Worth and second baseman Ian Kinsler, and manager Brad Ausmus noted the preparation work infield coach Omar Vizquel and defensive coordinator Matt Martin put into the series. "Matt and Omar are preparing our guys pregame, and then in-game, Omar is constantly moving around people," said Ausmus, who retains final decisions on whether or not to shift guys.
• Joe Nathan said he got creative to retire David Ortiz to lead off the bottom of the ninth inning Friday night with a 1-0 lead. "I think a couple pitches kind of helped me throughout that at-bat," Nathan said. "I think it's the first time ever I threw a changeup in a one-run game. I think that definitely helped with the pitches later in the at-bat. Eventually, I got him on a backdoor curveball."
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.