MLB.com Reds beat writer Mark Sheldon posted an article about the off season for Aroldis Chapman that reminded me of question I asked myself at the end of the season. Why was Chapman being used in the Fall League regardless of his status as a reliever or the intent to convert him to a starting pitcher? Now after pitching with mixed results but unable to get through two innings they have decided to shut Chapman down from pitching till spring training while having him work on strength training to prepare him for a full season grind.
I am not a pitching coach, I do not have that experience in my arsenal. All I can rely on is common sense. When evaluating a relief pitcher you need to look at the whole picture. Chapman through 50 innings in 54 appearances at the Major League level, he tossed 9 more outings adding 13 innings of work in the minor leagues. 63 innings doesn’t sound like much but when you add in all of the warm ups for appearances that may or may not happen I have to imagine the wear and tear adds up. Couple that to the mental exhaustion of still trying to learn the language while your parents, siblings, girlfriend and daughter all remain behind in Cuba. Suffice it too say, Chapman has had a challenging, though well compensated, couple of years.
2012 could be the payoff for the Reds organization but for that payoff to occur Aroldis must be both physically and mentally prepared for this next chapter. He needs to settle into a repetitive, competitive pitching mechanic that allows him to both maintain an extreme fastball without unduly damaging his arm in the process. I think pitching outside the Reds organizational umbrella in the Winter League could spell disaster while staying home and working on strengthening his shoulder and arm to withstand a seasons grind is a much better way to put himself in the right frame of mind and get his body in playing condition. If he can avoid the problems of being a millionaire on South Beach, the Reds may have a lot to look forward too in 2012 from the Cuban Missle. Here’s hoping…
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