Reds getting closer to decision on Chapman
Lefty indicates desire to close, but team may still use him as starter
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- By Sunday afternoon, Reds general manager Walt Jocketty had heard all about pitcher Aroldis Chapman's public wishes to remain as the team's closer. Jocketty did not want to discuss the issue in depth.
It's not a lock that Chapman will get what he wants, however.
"It would certainly be considered, but we don't let every player tell us how they want to be used," Jocketty told MLB.com.
Chapman, who saved 38 games in 43 chances last season after being installed as closer on May 20, is currently competing with Mike Leake for a spot in the rotation. There are people in the organization who feel that Chapman could be a potential top-end starter and want to see if he could master secondary pitches to go with his high velocity.
Following his four-inning start vs. the Giants on Saturday, Chapman was asked what his preference was between starting and closing. Although Chapman has often voiced his enjoyment in closing, he never had definitively come out and said what he wanted.
"I would like to be the closer, but that's not in my hands," Chapman said.
Chapman and manager Dusty Baker have both voiced a desire for a quick resolution to the situation -- one way or the other. Jocketty was also in that camp.
"We'll get it done this week, the next few days probably," Jocketty said.
Baker, who was pleased to hear Chapman say what he wanted, had hoped to speak personally with Chapman about his wishes. That had yet to happen as of Sunday morning.
"I was going to talk to him [Monday], because we had more time with the night game," Baker said. "He seems kind of happy. He's kind of jovial on the outside. We'll talk. … And if we did talk, I can't tell you what we talked about."
One potential ramification, if Chapman did return to closing, is that reliever Jonathan Broxton would have to return to a setup role. Broxton was re-signed to a three-year, $21 million contract in the offseason with the idea that he would replace Chapman as closer.
"He gives you the luxury that if Chapman is the closer, it's the same [as last year]," Baker said. "If Chapman has too many consecutive days, [Broxton] can close.
"In a day of specialty, the eighth inning seems to be damn near as tough as the ninth inning, or tougher. You better have some good guys that late in the game -- seven through nine -- or else you'll never get to the ninth with your closer."
Against the Giants, Chapman gave up one run on two hits over his four innings with three walks and two strikeouts. He threw 60 pitches, including 27 in a lengthy first inning that featured two walks and a run-scoring wild pitch before recovering for a strong finish.
"He was OK. The end result was good," Jocketty said. "He threw a lot of pitches and his stuff wasn't as sharp as it was in the past."
In three games this spring, including two starts, Chapman has a 2.25 ERA. Leake gave up seven runs (five earned) and 10 hits over 3 1/3 innings vs. the Brewers in a split-squad game on Saturday. It was his first poor outing and it ran his ERA up to 6.48 ERA in three starts.
Choo day to day with back spasms
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Reds center fielder Shin-Soo Choo was out of the lineup Sunday, one day after he had to be scratched with back spasms.
"He's still a little sore, but I had him off today anyway," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "He just came in for treatment. I have him as kind of a question mark [on Monday]. You know how those backs are. You can treat them, do whatever you want, but they let you go when they feel like it. He's never had any back problems, he said, before."
Choo, who was acquired in a December trade from the Indians to be the Reds' new leadoff hitter, is batting .400 (10-for-25) and has seven hits in his last 11 at-bats.
Prior slated to pitch for Reds on Thursday
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- On Thursday, when the Reds face the A's, former All-Star pitcher Mark Prior is slated to come over from the Minor League camp and get an inning of work in relief. Ace Johnny Cueto is scheduled to start the game.
The Reds signed Prior to a Minor League contract on March 1, which allowed him to continue a lengthy comeback from reconstructive shoulder surgery. The 32-year-old has not pitched in the Majors since 2006 and has spent recent years in the Minors and an independent league.
"I have a pretty good idea what he can do," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "I know he's been training and working. I just hope that he's far enough along and ready to pitch the way we know he can pitch, if he's had enough time. Maybe somewhere down the road here, he can help us."
Baker was the manager of the Cubs when Prior was the team's young phenom starter that enjoyed an 18-win season in 2003.