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I am a freelance writer. I've covered the Cincinnati Reds, Bengals and others since 1992. I have a background in sales as well. I've sold consumer electronics, advertising and consumer package goods for companies ranging from the now defunct Circuit City to Procter&Gamble. I have worked as a stats operator for Xavier University, the University of Cincinnati, the College of Mount St. Joe and Colerain High School.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Chapman Makes a Strong Case For Undecided Fifth Starter Job

The game started at 1:05 but I got your attention.

Chapman's first pitch sailed over the lefthanded batter's box as Rickie Weeks watched it sail. It clanged off the backstop. You could almost hear longtime Brewers Hall of Fame broadcaster proclaim, "Just a bit outside." ala Major League the movie.

The Cosa Estepa, Chapman bears little resemblance to The Wild Thing, Charlie Sheen.

Chapman is no slouch at the plate either. I've seen him in batting practice this spring and he has a pretty good swing. He just doubled off Wolf. A line shot over Nyjer Morgan's head in centerfield. Juan Francisco hit a long home run, high off the batter's eye in center. Miguel Cairo doubled home a run and Todd Frazier singled him in.

"It was just something that happened," said Chapman, who is much to modest about his batting stroke. He must have picked up some pointers in Cuba from Yoenis Cespedes. He hits one out nearly every day in batting practice and tattooed the double after fouling off several pitches.

Chapman finished with five strong innings, throwing 89 pitches. He didn't walk anyone but he hit Nyjer Morgan in the back, hard. His pitches were clocked in the 94-98 range.

"It was my goal to have fewer walks," said Chapman through interpreter, Tomas Vera. "I am happy with the way camp is going. Right now I'm concentrating on my command and trying to stay ahead in the count. Maybe later the velocity, speed will increase."

Dusty Baker is pleased with what he's seen.

"I'm seeing a lot of first and second pitch strikes," Baker said. "He threw some good breaking balls and a few change ups."

Chapman threw mainly sliders for breaking balls. He worked mostly with fastballs and sliders and mixed in a split finger fastball or two. When he first signed the Reds told him not to throw split finger fastballs but since converting him, they have given him the green light.

"I am not happy with my split finger right now but I threw a few," Chapman said.

Homer Bailey, who is also competing for that fifth spot, threw six innings in against Triple A Nashville this afternoon. He allowed four hits and a walk and no runs. He struck out five.

Baker has not decided on the fifth starter yet and has grown tired of being asked everyday.

"I don't know if he is in the rotation yet," Baker said. "Quit asking please. We'll let you know. Honestly, we haven't decided yet. There are more people involved than just Chapman."

Ryan Ludwick had hits in his first three at bats, giving him four hits in as many at bats, including his game winning home run on Wednesday.

The battle of the bench was played out. There are just one or two spots on the bench with.

Francisco, Wilson Valdez, Miguel Cairo and Todd Frazier in the mix.

Valdez had two hits. Cairo scorched an RBI double. Todd Frazier had three hits, including two doubles. Francisco hit the home run, a ball up against the fence in left and a long sacrifice fly to right.

Francisco did blotch one play. He bobbled and threw late to second. If he makes the play Chapman would have been out of the inning but it loaded the bases. It was ruled a fielder's choice rather than an error.

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