TAMPA, Fla. (AP) In his first outing since Game 7 of last year’s World Series, New York Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman hit 100 mph on the radar gun with his second pitch of spring training.
The hard-throwing closer struck out Baltimore’s Chris Dickerson and Trey Mancini, and induced a grounder by Logan Schafer during a perfect fourth inning that took 16 pitches Thursday night.
”At this point, velocity is not important,” Chapman said through a translator. ”What’s important is the location on the pitches. That’s really what I’m working on.”
Chapman plans to pitch about eight innings this spring.
”Then I’ll feel comfortable, and ready to start the season,” he said.
The left-hander’s fastball was clocked between 97-99 mph after the triple-digit pitch.
”He’ll be ready, that’s not a concern,” New York manager Joe Girardi said.
Chapman appeared in the final three games of the Chicago Cubs’ World Series win over Cleveland last fall, including a Game 5 save when he went 2 2/3 innings. He got the victory in Chicago’s 10-inning Game 7 win after allowing Rajai Davis’ tying homer in the eighth.
There were questions about Cubs manager Joe Maddon’s use of Chapman during the World Series. Maddon had Chapman return to the mound to start the ninth inning of Game 6 even though he had already thrown 1 1/3 innings and Chicago was up by seven runs.
Chapman, on a conference call in December announcing his $86 million, five-year contract with the Yankees, said he didn’t ”agree with the way” he was used.
Chapman has talked with Maddon and said there is no issue between them.
New York obtained Chapman in a December 2015 trade with Cincinnati, then dealt him to the Cubs on July 25 for Adam Warren and three minor leaguers.
After helping the Cubs win their first NL pennant since 1945 and end a World Series title drought dating to 1908, Chapman became a free agent after the season.
His contract with the Yankees is the richest ever for a reliever.
CC Sabathia, who had offseason arthroscopic knee surgery, threw his second simulated game and is scheduled to make his first exhibition start Tuesday against Tampa Bay. Sabathia said he planned to text Boston left-hander David Price, who will consult with specialists after experiencing soreness in his left forearm and elbow, to ”wish him the best,” for sure. ”It’s always a concern if you have to see a doctor or miss a start,” Sabathia said. … Masahiro Tanaka will make his second spring training start Sunday against Pittsburgh. … New York beat an Orioles split squad 8-1.