Reds P Chapman prepares for starting rotation

Aroldis Chapman will be tested as a starter this spring by the

Cincinnati Reds.

The 24-year old lefthander whose pitches have been clocked at

105 mph has a 6-3 record with a 3.27 ERA in 69 relief appearances

over the last two seasons with Cincinnati.

But the small-market Reds want to see if they can maximize their

uncharacteristic $30 million investment.

”We are going to stretch him out,” manager Dusty Baker said.

”We are going to see if there is enough time and he can do it. If

there isn’t enough time or quality, we can send him back to the


Chapman was supposed to pitch in the Arizona Fall League as a

starter, and then in one of the Puerto Rican winter leagues. But

shoulder soreness canceled the plan.

”We would have the answers by now,” Baker said, ”if things

went according to plan.”

Now, it’s up to the spring training results.

”I worked hard all winter to get myself mentally and physically

prepared to be a starter,” Chapman said through an interpreter.

”I have been here for 2 1-2 weeks to be prepared.”

Along the way, Chapman’s shoulder received the rest it


”I feel,” he said, ”that I’m in good shape.”

If he is unable to prove himself as a starter, Baker and the

Reds have a backup plan.

”A lot depends on how he does, but it also depends on our

needs,” the manager said. ”If he doesn’t make the rotation, we

could send him to (Triple-A) Louisville. But I wouldn’t be opposed

to having three lefthanders in our bullpen.”

Chapman had 71 strikeouts last season, and has 90 for his


”If they make the decision to put me in the bullpen,” he said,

”I will continue to work hard to prove that I can be a starter and

work all the innings they want me to.”

Chapman is the lone lefthanded candidate for the starting

rotation, but that is no guarantee that it will sway his


”You prefer a lefty in your rotation, but you want to go with

your five best starters,” Baker said. ”A good righty is better

than a bad lefty.”

Still, the Reds – as well as Chapman – are hoping for a

successful transformation.

”One of the reasons we want him to start,” Baker said, ”is

last year, we scuffled for a starter when Johnny (Cueto) and Homer

(Bailey) were hurt.”

The Reds, a year after making the postseason, went a

disappointing 79-83 last season, finishing in third place of the

National League Central division.