GOODYEAR, Ariz. - On his 25th birthday, Aroldis Chapman shined in his first start at Spring Training.
Chapman sent all six batters he faced back to the dugout, not allowing a single hit in 2 innings, with four groundouts, an infield pop up and one strikeout against the Colorado Rockies split-squad, which still managed to slide past the Reds for a 4-3 victory.
Don't jump for joy just yet that he'll fit in as a starter, Chapman didn't pitch any more than he has in his last two years in Cincinnati, and long-term arm strength and stamina are still a concern.
Chapman says he's ready to go the distance though.
"The way I prepare myself, I'll be ready to throw as many innings as the team wants me to throw," Chapman said through an interpreter in Goodyear, Arizona.
And no, Chapman didn't see any opportunities to bat. He says he is admittedly not much of a hitter, but that he's working hard at what is important at the plate.
"I'm no hitter, I don't think about hitting." Chapman said through an interpreter. "All I'm doing right now is [preparing] myself to learn... in bunt situations, because those are important things to the game"
As for his pitch arsenal? Chapman has been criticized for his one-pitch style, but he thinks he can change that this year.
"Now I'm working a lot on my changeup and split-finger as well, but I am still working on my fastball and older pitches because I want to be able to [throw] a certain amount of pitches to be a starter," Chapman said through the interpreter.
Chapman says he has gone more than 150 innings in Cuba a few times, and that he's not concerned about being able to last all year as a starter.
"The way I'm [preparing] right now, it's hard to know [how many innings I can pitch]. The way I prepare myself, I'll be ready to throw as many innings as the team wants me to throw," Chapman said through the interpreter.
Time will tell if this Cuban Missile is set for the Reds rotation, but with Mike Leake on staff, there's no pressure to take Chapman out of the bullpen.
Feliz cumpleaños, Aroldis!
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