Aroldis Chapman was interviewed by local media in Cincinnati yesterday and was asked about his preference as to whether he would like to start or continue as a closer. He answer was simple and to the point; he wants to be the closer. Chapman thrived in the role last year, going 5-5 with a 1.51 ERA, while striking out 122 and notching 38 saves for the NL Central Champion Reds.
Chapman has been pitching this spring as a starter. He pitched four innings yesterday and allowed only one run on two hits. He also walked three and struck out two. He was quoted after the game as saying:
“Truthfully, I would like to be a closer, but that’s not in my hands. In the beginning when I started closing, it was something I didn’t know about, but as I started throwing and getting into the late part of the game, when the game is more exciting, I kind of liked it. The adrenaline goes up. I would like to be in that situation. But that’s something I can’t control. I want to sit down and concentrate on whatever they (Reds) want me to do.”
Reds manager Dusty Baker would also like him to continue closing out games, but GM Walt Jocketty and others with the Reds would like to see what he can do in the rotation. The Reds signed the Cuban born southpaw to a 6 yr/$30.5 mil deal in January 2010 and likely want to see if they can turn that investment into a top of the rotation type of arm.
Chapman said that if he starts, he will use different pitches and a different approach:
“When you’re a starter, you start using your pitches in a different way. You try to save energy. When you save energy, you use speed as the game demands you. Later in the game, you throw harder. The game dictates how hard you throw.”
Chapman likely wants to get his mind, body and mechanics ready for whichever position Cincinnati chooses him to be in this year. Can’t blame the guy for that, but either way, he’ll be firing 100 mph fastball at some point this year.