I think this is one of the most intriguing stories in all of MLB this year. I'm sure LadyCroft
By The Associated Press: "Aroldis Chapman ready to start"... http://espn.go.com/mlb/spring2013/st...nati-reds-want
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Aroldis Chapman was getting ready to start for the Cincinnati Reds last spring when the bullpen got wiped out by injuries, forcing a different approach. The hard-throwing Cuban became one of baseball's best closers in his first try at it.
He's on the same course this spring, trying to win a spot in the rotation -- and his manager is keeping an open mind about where he'll end up eventually.
So is Chapman, who worked on his changeup over the winter to add another pitch in case he starts.
"I will prepare the same way I did last year," Chapman said, with trainer Tomas Vera translating. "I would like to start a season and throw as many innings as I can, but that's up to the team. When I was in Cuba, I threw 150 innings. I will prepare myself to throw as many innings as they want me to throw."
Chapman, who turns 25 on Feb. 28, was expected to develop into a starter when the Reds signed him in 2010. He struggled with his control in the minors, and the Reds used him as a reliever for the first time in his career to help them win the NL Central in 2010.
He was a setup man again in 2011, but had streaks of control problems. The Reds gave him a chance to do what's most familiar to him -- start games -- during spring training last season, and Chapman showed improvement.
When closer Ryan Madson tore a ligament in his elbow and the two setup men got hurt during spring training, manager Dusty Baker switched Chapman back into the bullpen, using him initially in a setup role and then as the closer. This time, Chapman excelled.
The left-hander didn't allow a run until his 16th appearance of the season. He didn't become the closer until May 20, yet tied for third in the NL in saves. From June 26 through Aug. 17, Chapman turned in 23 consecutive scoreless appearances. He converted a team-record 27 straight save chances.
The Reds told Chapman at the end of last season that they were planning to make him a starter. Their other five starters are right-handers, and Chapman -- whose fastball has been clocked at 105 mph -- would give the rotation a much different look.
"Chapman has the chance to be a top-flight starter," general manager Walt Jocketty said. "I always wanted to have a left-hander in the rotation."
Chapman threw mostly fastballs as a closer, mixing in an occasional slider. He has worked on his changeup in the offseason, knowing he'll need another pitch if he starts.
"He didn't throw the changeup too much, but it is better than his slider," Jocketty said. "He is a great athlete. You ought to see him hit. He is one of the fastest runners on the team."
The Reds signed Jonathan Broxton to a $21 million, three-year deal in November, giving themselves a closer and freeing Chapman to move to the rotation. Although they have faith in Broxton, it's a change that could have a big overall impact.
"It's kind of tough the way we had a shut-down bullpen last year," Baker said. "We had the guys lined up."
Baker wouldn't rule out moving Chapman back to the bullpen if injuries or other problems occur.
"That's a maybe," Baker said. "It's the same situation as last year. We started with Chapman as a starter, then Ryan Madson went down. We had no idea that Chapman would be as good as a closer. I don't think anybody did."
There's also the question of how many innings Chapman will be allowed to pitch as he moves into the new role. In his first season in the organization, he threw 109 innings. He totaled 71 2/3 innings last season.
Chapman has developed a tired shoulder on at least one occasion during his career with Cincinnati. The Reds will watch him closely to see how his shoulder handles the extra innings.
"It's a risk when you throw that hard anyway, you know?" Baker said.
Chapman is willing to do whatever the Reds ask. Although he was initially concerned about the move to the bullpen because he'd never done it before, he's now comfortable with closing games and wouldn't mind doing it again.
"I have never started in the big leagues," Chapman said. "I've had success as a reliever. If I had to choose, I would choose to do what I've had success with. But I will do whatever they want me to do."
Only real sore point (no pun intended) is those last few lines from Chapman himself. I'd love to know how
he said it. Makes you wonder just a little bit.
That whole wacky delivery and the stunning velocity from a left-hander, might be something to watch as he attempts to shift from dominant closer to starter.
What do you think, LadyCroft
Also Reds-related, from Jerry Crasnick: "Reds moving on without Rolen"... http://espn.go.com/blog/spring-train...ut-scott-rolen
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- The Cincinnati Reds expect to compete for a National League pennant this year despite a roster that's young in several places. It got even younger this week when veteran third baseman Scott Rolen declined an invitation to come to spring training camp.
"He brought our average age down," said general manager Walt Jocketty. "I thanked him for that."
Rolen, 37, is the only third baseman in history with at least 2,000 hits, 500 doubles, 300 homers, 1,200 RBIs and six Gold Glove awards. But he’s been slowed by back and shoulder injuries in recent years. In a statement this week, Rolen said he wants to leave his options open, "without closing any doors."
The Reds are set up nicely without him. Todd Frazier, who finished third in NL Rookie of the Year balloting, slides in at third base, and former MVP Joey Votto is hoping to rediscover his old MVP form at first base after having the winter to recover from a knee injury.
The general consensus is that Rolen wants to slide into retirement with a minimum of hoopla or emotion. But Jocketty wouldn’t rule out the possibility that Rolen would get the itch and decide he wants to play again.
"He told me he’s at a place right now where he’s really enjoying the time with his family and he wasn’t ready to make the commitment to come in," Jocketty said. “He apologized for dragging it out so long. I told him, 'We’re prepared either way. If you come in, great. If you don’t, we’ll make adjustments.' We’ll just have to see where we are at that point.'
"He’s had such a great career. I told him no matter what happens, at some point he needs to be recognized. He’s not the type of guy who’s going to want to go out and tour the country like some guys do. But he ought to be recognized in Cincinnati."
The last time Jocketty spoke to Rolen, about a week ago, he got the impression that Rolen is still in excellent shape. The Reds confirmed that’s the case recently when the team’s strength and conditioning coach, Matt Krause, conferred by phone with Rolen’s personal trainer.
Rolen achieved the bulk of his career success in Philadelphia and St. Louis, and he collected only 36 of his 316 home runs and 304 of his 2,077 hits in Cincinnati. But the Reds remember him warmly for his competitiveness and his wry sense of humor.
According to Baseball-reference.com, Rolen earned about $117 million over 17 seasons. It was Jocketty, then St. Louis’ general manager, who signed Rolen to an eight-year, $90 million contract extension after the Cardinals acquired him from Philadelphia by trade in July 2002.
"He’s thanked me several times for making him a millionaire," Jocketty said with a laugh.
Okay, one more Reds-related story, because this is noteworthy...
"Reds, Homer Bailey avoid arbitration" from The Associated Press... http://espn.go.com/mlb/spring2013/st...-year-contract
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Homer Bailey and the Cincinnati Reds agreed Saturday to a $5.35 million, one-year contract, ensuring baseball will set a record low for salary arbitration hearings.
No cases have been argued before three-person panels this year among the 133 players who filed for arbitration last month and just one remains scheduled for a hearing next week: Baltimore reliever Darren O'Day.
O'Day and the Orioles have an agreement on a $5.8 million, two-year contract that is pending a physical. As long as that deal is completed, MLB will have no arbitration hearings this year for the first time since the process began in 1974.
Baseball's previous record low was three hearings, set in 2005 and matched in 2009 and 2011. The high was 35 in 1986.
Owners hold a 291-214 lead since arbitration began.
San Diego left-hander Clayton Richard had been scheduled for a hearing Tuesday before agreeing to a $5.24 million, one-year contract Saturday evening. Richard had asked for a raise from $2,705,000 to $5.5 million and was offered $4,905,000 after he went 14-14 with a 3.99 ERA in 33 starts covering 218 2-3 innings last year.
Bailey, who pitched a no-hitter at Pittsburgh last Sept. 28, had asked for $5.8 million and was offered $4.75 million when players and teams swapped proposed arbitration salaries last month.
His agreement was for the same amount as pitcher Jordan Zimmermann's settlement with the Washington Nationals a day earlier.
Bailey was 13-10 with a 3.68 ERA in 33 starts last year.