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Reds getting closer to decision on Chapman

Lefty indicates desire to close, but team may still use him as starter

Reds getting closer to decision on Chapman

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- By Sunday afternoon, Reds general manager Walt Jocketty had heard all about pitcher Aroldis Chapman's public wishes to remain as the team's closer. Jocketty did not want to discuss the issue in depth.

It's not a lock that Chapman will get what he wants, however.

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"It would certainly be considered, but we don't let every player tell us how they want to be used," Jocketty told MLB.com.

Chapman, who saved 38 games in 43 chances last season after being installed as closer on May 20, is currently competing with Mike Leake for a spot in the rotation. There are people in the organization who feel that Chapman could be a potential top-end starter and want to see if he could master secondary pitches to go with his high velocity.

Following his four-inning start vs. the Giants on Saturday, Chapman was asked what his preference was between starting and closing. Although Chapman has often voiced his enjoyment in closing, he never had definitively come out and said what he wanted.

"I would like to be the closer, but that's not in my hands," Chapman said.

Chapman and manager Dusty Baker have both voiced a desire for a quick resolution to the situation -- one way or the other. Jocketty was also in that camp.

"We'll get it done this week, the next few days probably," Jocketty said.

Baker, who was pleased to hear Chapman say what he wanted, had hoped to speak personally with Chapman about his wishes. That had yet to happen as of Sunday morning.

"I was going to talk to him [Monday], because we had more time with the night game," Baker said. "He seems kind of happy. He's kind of jovial on the outside. We'll talk. … And if we did talk, I can't tell you what we talked about."

One potential ramification, if Chapman did return to closing, is that reliever Jonathan Broxton would have to return to a setup role. Broxton was re-signed to a three-year, $21 million contract in the offseason with the idea that he would replace Chapman as closer.

"He gives you the luxury that if Chapman is the closer, it's the same [as last year]," Baker said. "If Chapman has too many consecutive days, [Broxton] can close.

"In a day of specialty, the eighth inning seems to be damn near as tough as the ninth inning, or tougher. You better have some good guys that late in the game -- seven through nine -- or else you'll never get to the ninth with your closer."

Against the Giants, Chapman gave up one run on two hits over his four innings with three walks and two strikeouts. He threw 60 pitches, including 27 in a lengthy first inning that featured two walks and a run-scoring wild pitch before recovering for a strong finish.

"He was OK. The end result was good," Jocketty said. "He threw a lot of pitches and his stuff wasn't as sharp as it was in the past."

In three games this spring, including two starts, Chapman has a 2.25 ERA. Leake gave up seven runs (five earned) and 10 hits over 3 1/3 innings vs. the Brewers in a split-squad game on Saturday. It was his first poor outing and it ran his ERA up to 6.48 ERA in three starts.

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

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