Thursday, March 14, 2013
Dusty wants Chapman decision soon
By Jason Catania
Through two spring training outings, Aroldis Chapman's conversion from reliever to rotation has gotten off to a solid start, but his ultimate role is still TBD.
Manager Dusty Baker, who has done everything except outright state publicly that he prefers Chapman as his closer, told John Fay of the Enquirer that he wants a decision made by the club's brass (including Baker) within the next week or so. Chapman is scheduled to pitch next on Saturday, as is Mike Leake, who is Chapman's competition for the No. 5 spot. The two have been piggybacking or pitching different ends of split-squad games this spring.
After their most recent turns, against the Angels Baker said Leake "was really good" and Chapman was "pretty good", according to MLB.com's Mark Sheldon. After Leake went three scoreless frames, giving up four hits with two strikeouts, Chapman followed with two innings in which he allowed three hits, including a Howard Kendrick solo homer, while striking out one and walking one.
The Great Chapman Experiment has already raised plenty of questions, Sheldon writes, as some -- including a few in the Reds organization -- feel Chapman should stay in the bullpen as a dynamite, shutdown closer instead of risking the transition to the unknown as a starter.
As ESPN Insider Jim Bowden wrote, the Chapman situation could become the equivalent of this season's Stephen Strasburg controversy in that it will be talked about and debated over to the point where it could cause turmoil for the Reds.
The club still believes in Leake, who is just 25 and has proven to be a durable and reliable option as a starter. If he winds up on the outside looking in to start the 2013 season, Leake would still be a contributor in the bullpen and would be the first option to cover for an injury.