Chapman to skip winter ball, still plans to start

Chapman to skip winter ball, still plans to start

CINCINNATI -- The Reds have shelved plans for Aroldis Chapman to start games in winter ball. However, the club still expects to go forward with Chapman's transition to become a starting pitcher.

Chapman pitched 2 2/3 innings in the Arizona Fall League before he came down with left shoulder inflammation. A planned start on Oct. 31 was scratched, and the left-hander has not pitched since.

The Reds have decided that Chapman will skip winter ball and not pitch in games again until Spring Training.

"We were going to send him to Puerto Rico, but his shoulder was a little weak, so we decided to shut him down," Reds general manager Walt Jocketty said Tuesday at the General Managers Meetings in Milwaukee. "Rather than send him to winter ball without much supervision from our own people, we decided that he would be better in Florida working with some trainers there on strengthening the area. We have a couple of guys down there with him who set up the program and are monitoring it."

Chapman, a Cuban defector whom the Reds signed to a six-year, $30 million contract in January 2010, makes his offseason home in the Miami area.

The 23-year-old was 4-1 with a 3.60 ERA in 54 games out of the bullpen this season, with 41 walks and 71 strikeouts in 70 innings. He missed a month from May 23-June 21 with shoulder inflammation that was diagnosed after an erratic week of pitching.

Despite his not getting to start over the winter, there is no change to the plan of having Chapman compete for a rotation spot in camp.

"It would have been nice to build him up to where he could pitch four to five innings," Jocketty said. "Then, he would have been ahead of the game. But actually, strengthening his shoulder and getting him conditioned to be a starter in Spring Training, we'll be fine."

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Mark My Word, and follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon. Adam McCalvy contributed to this report. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.