Cincinnati Reds closer Aroldis Chapman says that he will not be moved to the starting rotation and is tired of being asked about the possibility, reports C. Trent Rosencrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer.
Speaking at Redsfest on Saturday, Chapman had this to say when asked if he might return to starting ballgames soon:
I’m tired of every year the same thing about me either starting or closing. What I have in mind is closing games and that’s it. I am preparing myself as every offseason, getting myself ready to close. Starting hasn’t even crossed my mind and I’m not going to do it either.
That seems to settle questions about him potentially starting for the Reds next year with Bronson Arroyo leaving in free agency, a strong bullpen behind Chapman and a new manager in Bryan Price at the helm of the team.
Chapman was also asked by the Enquirer about the possibility of being stretched out to enter the rotation and said, "I don't want to, and it's difficult to do that."
In four years with the Reds, Chapman has not started one major league game. In fact, he has never pitched more than two innings in a game for Cincinnati. He did spend part of his first season starting some games in the minor leagues, but the team decided he could best be used out of the bullpen. However, the Reds have had him come in to spring training each of the last two seasons as a starter before once again deciding to keep him in the relief corps.
Chapman had primarily been a starter in Cuba, where he played before defecting and signing a five-year, $25.25 million contract with the Reds. In four years in the Cuban league, he posted a 3.74 ERA and struck out over a batter per inning. However, his control was atrocious and led to more runners on the base paths. The talent was clearly there, but he struggled to locate his pitches. He was also very young at the time, signing with the Reds when he was just 21 years old.
Now 25, the fireballing Chapman has been one of the best closers in the game since taking over the role full-time in 2012. He has collected 76 saves over the last two seasons with a combined 2.00 ERA and 0.92 WHIP. Even more impressive is the fact that he has struck out an incredible 15.6 batters per nine innings pitched.
Chapman is under contract for one more year with the Reds, meaning he could be a free agent after the 2014 season. He also holds a player option to return for another year.