Originally posted on Fox Sports Ohio  |  Last updated 3/21/13
They made a movie about Aroldis Chapmans early baseball life when he was only a one-year-old. It was called Major League, about a closer named Ricky Wild Thing Vaughn, but they put him in the wrong Ohio city (Cleveland instead of Cincinnati) and they cast a short right-hander (Charlie Sheen) as the closer instead of a tall left-hander. Even Sheen, a baseball fan who roots only for the Cincinnati Reds, thought Chapman should be the teams closer in 2013. And thats the way it appears it will be. After experimenting this winter and through the first two-thirds of spring training of transposing Chapman from the closer to the starting rotation, the Reds are reportedly ready to announce that they will stick with the status quo, a status quo that worked extremely well for the team last year 97 wins and a National League Central championship. Less than a week ago, the 25-year-old Cuban-born Chapman let it be known that he preferred to remain as the closer, citing the excitement and adrenaline rush he received in the role. Manager Dusty Baker, Chapman and most of the Cincinnati players said theyd like to see Chapman remain in the bullpen for the betterment of the team. And thats what pitching coach Bryan Price said all along, That it would come down to whats best for the team. Keeping Chapman as closer is certainly best for the team. For starters, the Reds dont really need a starter right now. They have the same five starters right now who made every start last season Johnny Cueto, Mat Latos, Bronson Arroyo, Homer Bailey and Mike Leake. None missed a single start last year. It was Leake who was the odd man gone if Chapman joined the rotation, but both Baker and Price championed the cause of the 25-year-old No. 1 draft pick in 2009 and jumped right from Arizona State University onto the Reds roster. And his work for 2 seasons has resulted in a 28-22 record for his 78 major-league starts, certainly not a record to cause him to be tossed aside. With Chapman in the bullpen, he can do what he did last year be one of the most feared closers in the game with his 100 miles an hour fastballs and hard slider. Our bullpen last year was one of the best in baseball and more than half our wins were in games Chapman pitched, said Baker, a guy who didnt want to mess with success. And it was more than half. The Reds were 60-6 in games in which Chapman appeared during their 97-win season. It enables Baker to keep the back end of his bullpen the way it was. If Chapman had been moved to the rotation, mostly likely the closer would have been Jonathan Broxton, a guy with closing experience. But after the Reds obtained him from Kansas City last mid-season he was used as a successful set-up guy, a right-hander who shared the role with left-handed set-up man Sean Marshall. There is no better moment in baseball these days than in Great American Ball Park in the ninth inning when the bullpen gate opens and the long-legged, clarinet-thin Chapman trots toward the mound with the stadium buzzing and smart phone cameras flashing. Chapman was wise in his thinking and said, I know I have been successful as a closer in the majors. I know I can do it. I dont know if I can be a major-league starter. Many scouts from other teams thought the Reds were off their game by considering Chapman in the rotation. Can he pitch six or seven innings? Can he maintain his velocity? Can he get by with only one major-league pitch (his fastball, because they dont believe his slider and change-up is major-league caliber)? Will batters hone in on him after seeing him the second or third time on the same day? Those questions wont have to be answered. If the reports are true, Chapman is back in his comfort zone as the closer, the spot from which he made the All-Star team last year (voted in by fellow players) and finished eighth in the Cy Young balloting.
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