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Minors likely for Cuban phenom

GOODYEAR, Ariz. — Cuban defector Aroldis Chapman will likely start the season in the Reds' farm system.

General manager Walt Jocketty said Tuesday that the left-hander has adapted well during spring training — he just turned 22 and is learning English — but had his chances of making the team scuttled by a back injury that cost him a week.

"The injury set him back to the point where it's going to be tough for him to be ready to start the season as a (major-league) starter," Jocketty said. "I think we needed the spring to figure out the best route for him. Even without the injury, we may have decided to send him someplace to get established first."

The Reds signed Chapman to a six-year, $30.25 million deal in January. They gave him a chance to make the rotation as a fifth starter during spring training but insisted they weren't going to rush a player who was going through culture shock.

When camp opened, Chapman said that his toughest adjustment was getting accustomed to the food and the language.

He pitched so well early — his fastball regularly registered 97-100 mph — that he put himself in the final group of three young pitchers vying for the only open rotation spot. He gave up one earned run and six hits in 82/3 innings, striking out 12 of the 35 batters he faced.

REYES TAKES STEP: Mets shortstop Jose Reyes played in minor-league game in Port St. Lucie, his first action since being sidelined with a thyroid problem. Reyes went 1-for-5 with a double and played three innings in the field.

MARLINS GET PITCHER: Florida acquired left-hander Nate Robertson from the Tigers for left-hander Jay Voss. The trade enables Robertson to start with the Marlins and assures left-hander Dontrelle Willis a spot in the Detroit rotation. In other Marlins news, they released former Rays pitcher Seth McClung.

ANGELS: Former Rays left-hander Scott Kazmir pitched five sharp innings in his final Cactus League start after missing a start because of shoulder stiffness.

ASTROS: First baseman Lance Berkman, who had arthroscopic knee surgery March 13 to clean out loose particles in his left knee, had swelling in the knee after taking ground balls and trying to run.

A'S: Right-handed reliever Michael Wuertz has tendinitis in the back of his right shoulder and will start the season on the 15-day disabled list.

BREWERS: Right-hander Yovani Gallardo, 24, will make his first opening day start. … Right-hander Jeff Suppan went on the 15-day disabled list with neck pain retroactive to Friday.

CARDINALS: Rookie David Freese, 26, was named the starting third baseman.

CUBS: Kevin Millar was released, giving infielder Chad Tracy the final bench job.

DODGERS: Left-hander Eric Stults was scratched from his spring training start amid reports his contract was being sold to a team in Japan.

ORIOLES: Right-hander David Hernandez, 24, was named the fifth starter, meaning right-hander and top prospect Chris Tillman, 21, will head to the minors. … Former Rays outfielder Joey Gathright, released by the Blue Jays last weekend, signed a minor-league contract.

RANGERS: Second baseman Ian Kinsler appears likely to start the season on the disabled list with a sprained right ankle. Kinsler has been out since March 12.

RED SOX: The team is discussing a four-year extension with right-hander Josh Beckett, ESPN.com reported. Beckett, 29, can become a free agent after the season.

TWINS: The team stopped selling season tickets in most areas of brand-new Target Field and started a waiting list for next year. … Left-hander Francisco Liriano was named the fifth starter.

Minors likely for Cuban phenom 03/30/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, March 30, 2010 11:02pm]

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