Chapman in mix for 2012 starting rotation

Chapman in mix for 2012 starting rotation

Chapman in mix for 2012 starting rotation
CINCINNATI -- Something that was expected as the 2011 season came to an end is on the verge of becoming reality. The Reds are now definitely preparing left-handed pitcher Aroldis Chapman to be a starter in 2012.

Chapman made all 54 appearances this season out of the bullpen and posted a 3.60 ERA, with 41 walks and 71 strikeouts, in 70 innings.

"That was the plan all along -- give him one more year in the bullpen and then stretch him out to [start]," Reds general manager Walt Jocketty said.

Chapman will head to Goodyear, Ariz., on Friday for the Reds' instructional league camp.

"He'll build up his innings down there," Jocketty said.

The Reds pulled a coup in January 2010, when they signed the Cuban defector to a six-year, $30 million free-agent contract. He began that season as a starter for Triple-A Louisville, but moved to the bullpen to help with its postseason push. It was in September of that season when he set a record with a 105.1-mph pitch.

Take away a four-game stretch in May, when Chapman gave up 10 runs in 1 1/3 innings with 12 walks, and the 23-year-old was very good for Cincinnati this season.

After a few weeks in Arizona, the Reds will send Chapman to pitch in winter ball for about a month, and hope he can work his way up to five-inning starts.

"We're trying to get him to Puerto Rico, but we haven't finalized anything yet," Jocketty said.

The Reds have more candidates than rotation spots heading into next season, and are considering adding someone for one of the top two places. That means Chapman is not automatically locked in.

"He'll definitely have to compete for a spot," Jocketty said.