Rockies 4, Reds 3

Cincinnati’s project to turn hard-throwing Aroldis Chapman into
a starter got off to a near-perfect start Thursday in the split
squad Reds’ 4-3 loss to the Colorado Rockies.

”No. Nothing different,” said Chapman through a translator
after a spring debut in which he hit 94 mph with his fastball. ”I
tried to do things as before (as a reliever). Throw hard and look
for spots.”

Chapman has 16 starts in the minors but was derailed by injuries
when he tried to make the conversion to starter last spring. He has
never started a major league games in his three seasons but seemed
comfortable in the role.

He started and faced the minimum six batters in two innings.
Chapman threw 19 pitches, struck out one and didn’t allow the ball
out of the infield. Chapman went 5-5 out of the bullpen last season
with 38 saves and 122 strikeouts in 71 2/3 innings.

Chapman said he was happy with the outing because it gave him a
chance to work on some pitches, particularly his change-up. He used
it to get his lone strikeout after Ramon Hernandez fouled off four
fastballs.

”I’m preparing a little different,” said Chapman. ”As starter
you got to be out there long, so I am doing more running and
lifting.”

Devin Mesoraco hit a two-run single for the Reds to break a 1-1
tie in the seventh. Colorado retook the lead in the bottom half on
an error.

Nolan Arenado and DJ LeMahieu had RBI doubles for the Rockies,
who turned an around-the-horn triple play to end the fifth.

Juan Nicasio worked two hitless innings with a pair of
strikeouts for Colorado and Jeff Francis pitched three innings,
allowing one hit with a strikeout. Both figured to be in new
manager Walt Weiss’ pitching rotation.

”Realy quality outings by both,” said Rockies pitching coach
Jim Wright. ”Particularly Juan. His slider was sharp and he had
good location. Both guys got some work doing what they do best and
what they wanted to work on.”

NOTES; The 26-year-old Nicasio made only 11 start a year ago,
going 2-3 in making a comeback from a 2011 fracture in his neck
when hit by a batted ball. … Francis has pitched five scoreless
innings in two games, giving up only two hits. … The Reds got two
outstanding defensive plays: SS Zack Cozart’s diving stop robbed
LeMahieu of hit, and Billy Hamilton’s leaping catch took away a
potential home run by Charlie Cuberson in the eighth. … Of the 65
Rockies in camp, 29 were not with the club in 2012 and 10 are
players originally drafted or signed by the club.