Originally posted on Fox Sports Ohio  |  Last updated 9/11/12
CINCINNATI Most major-league pitchers are enthralled and ecstatic when their fastballs consistently hit 95 or 96 miles an hour on the radar guns.But when you are Aroldis Chapman and the reading says 94 and 95 it is time to call the pressbo and ask, What wrong with the radar gun.Unfortunately for Chapman and the Cincinnati Reds, there is nothing wrong with the radar gun. There is something wrong with Chapmans shoulder.They are calling it shoulder fatigue and rest has been prescribed for the 24-year-old lefthanded closer.Five days or a week and Ill be OK, said Chapman through translatortrainer Tomas Vera.When the season began, Chapmans fastball hit triple digits, above 100 miles an hour, nearly every time. By mid-season it was down to 97 and 98.But he kept striking out hitters and kept annexing saves, a club record 27 straight after he blew one on June 24. Along the way he struck out 119 in 67 23 innings and they were talking about a possible Cy Young Award and the Fireman of the Year award for sure.Then, pitching the ninth-inning against the 96-loss Houston Astros, asked to protect a 3-2 lead, he gave up two singles and a three-run home run to rookie Matt Dominguez, his second career home run.And his velocity was at 95 and 96.On Monday Chapman came into a tie game, 3-3, in the 10th inning against Pittsburgh. He walked the bases loaded and was removed from the game with two outs.His velocity was down to 93 and 94.After the game, manager Dusty Baker said, Are we concerned? Yes, it is worrisome His velocity is down. Weve had him checked and our doctor and trainers tell us it is shoulder fatigue.Chapman said there is no pain, but he knows his speed is down and that he cant reach back for extra when he needs it.A little fatigue for I know I havent been myself for a couple of games, he said. I feel weak. But there is nothing wrong. I just feel tired and weak.Chapman said it is nothing new, It has happened before, but it happens to every pitcher. At some point every pitcher gets fatigued.It isnt the innings Chapman has pitched (67 23s) because he was a starting pitcher with the Cuban National team and he was a starter in the Reds minor-league system. But he has had 64 appearances this season, most of them under pressure situations.Chapman said his loss of command is more disconcerting than the loss of speed and said, The fatigue affects not only speed, but muscle control and everything goes off.Vera probably offered the best quote at the end of the interview when he said, as digital recorders and cameras clicked off: Dont worry, guys. He is going to be all right.Baker said it is the command that bothers him more than speed reduction beause before the three walks Monday Chapman had walked only 11 in his first 67 innings.Nobody goes to the mound with the same velocity all the time, he said. Were lucky we got him to this point. When a guy throws 102 miles an hour he is going to fatigue sooner or later. He is reaching a plateau he hasnt reached before. This is another step to learning how to be a closer and learning how to work away from the field to maintain his strength.What is happening is that Aroldis is growing, growing into the closers role and growing into the workload, Baker added. Weve monitored him about as close as you an monitor him. He is still learning the role. We want him for the next six weeks, hopefully, and we need to stop this fatigue right now.So who steps into the closers role during Chapmans absence?Jonathan Broxon is the No. 1 candidate, but it is a match-up, too, said Baker. If they had three lefthanders coming up it could be (lefthander) Sean Marshall. It could be Jose Arrendo or J.J. Hoover.But Broxon has closer experience with the Los Angeles Dodgers and with the Kansas City Royals, from whom the Reds acquired at the nonwaivers trade deadline.Yeah, hes our No. 1 chocie, said Baker. But we try to limit him to two days in a row. When we got him we said this is the luxury we now have two guys who can close.Baker, though, will count the days until he can press a button and turn the Cuban Missile loose once again.
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