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Reds' Chapman back in line for starting job

GOODYEAR, Ariz. — Aroldis Chapman was getting ready to start for the Reds last spring when the bullpen got wiped out by injuries, forcing a different approach. The hard-throwing Cuban became one of baseball's best closers in his first try at it.

He's on the same course this spring, trying to win a spot in the rotation — and his manager is keeping an open mind about where he'll end up eventually.

So is Chapman, who worked on his changeup over the winter to add another pitch in case he starts.

"I will prepare the same way I did last year," Chapman said, with trainer Tomas Vera translating. "I would like to start a season and throw as many innings as I can, but that's up to the team. When I was in Cuba, I threw 150 innings. I will prepare myself to throw as many innings as they want me to throw."

Chapman, who turns 25 on Feb. 28, was expected to develop into a starter when the Reds signed him in 2010, but in three seasons he has yet to make a start, appearing in 137 games in relief.

He excelled as the closer last year, but the Reds told him at the end of the season that they were planning to make him a starter. Their other five starters are right-handers, and Chapman — whose fastball has been clocked at 105 mph — would give the rotation a much different look.

"Chapman has the chance to be a top-flight starter," general manager Walt Jocketty said. "I always wanted to have a left-hander in the rotation."

ARBITRATION RECORD: Right-hander Homer Bailey and the Reds agreed to a $5.35 million, one-year contract, ensuring baseball will set a record low for salary arbitration hearings. No cases have been argued before three-person panels this year among the 133 players who filed for arbitration last month, and just two remain scheduled for hearings next week, Padres left-hander Clayton Richard and Orioles reliever Darren O'Day.

ANGELS: Closer Ryan Madson, sidelined since Feb. 1 because of discomfort in his surgically repaired right elbow, could resume his throwing program as early as Monday.

BREWERS: First baseman Mat Gamel aggravated his surgically repaired right knee and had his workout cut short.

DODGERS: Left-hander Clayton Kershaw was named the opening day starter and will become the team's first pitcher to start three straight openers since right-hander Derek Lowe from 2005-07.

METS: Manager Terry Collins confirmed that right-hander Zack Wheeler, one of the team's top prospects, will open the season at Triple-A Las Vegas.

NATIONALS: Right-hander Rafael Soriano, the former Rays closer who filled in for injured Yankees great Mariano Rivera last season, cleared up his visa issues in the Dominican Republic and reported to camp.

PADRES: Reading from a prepared statement, catcher Yasmani Grandal apologized for a second time following his 50-game suspension for a positive test for testosterone.

Reds' Chapman back in line for starting job 02/16/13 [Last modified: Saturday, February 16, 2013 9:58pm]
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