Chapman impressive in debut

Published 4:27 am Tuesday, March 9, 2010

GOODYEAR, Ariz. — Scouts behind home plate trained their radar guns on Cuban defector Aroldis Chapman as the left-hander prepared to throw. When the ball smacked the catcher’s mitt, they’d glance back at the gun and find an eye-popping number.

The left-hander hit 100 mph at least three times during his spring training debut Monday, throwing two scoreless innings during the Cincinnati Reds’ 14-5 victory over the Kansas City Royals.

The most impressive thing was that he did it without even trying.

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“I wasn’t trying to throw that hard,” Chapman said through an interpreter, coach Tony Fossas. “It was good to face someone other than my own teammates. I felt better than I did in the last game. I start slow and as the game goes on, I throw harder.”

Chapman was clocked at 100 mph while pitching for Cuba during the World Baseball Classic last spring. The Reds signed him to a six-year, $30.25 million deal in January, and are giving the 22-year-old a chance to make the back of the rotation. He hit one of his teammates in the thigh during an intrasquad scrimmage last week, but was much sharper this time around.

Players from both teams stopped what they were doing to watch when he got ready to throw. He gave up a single by Brayan Pena and walked Brian Anderson before settling down and dominating.

“It sounded like he was throwing real hard. I couldn’t see it,” Royals manager Trey Hillman said, laughing. “He gets it up there. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a longer stride. It looked like he was going to run out of mound.”

Reds manager Dusty Baker liked the way Chapman had better control than during the intrasquad scrimmage. Chapman came from Cuba with a history of control problems.

“It’s just a matter of him finding the plate,” Baker said. “He was close to the plate today even when he was missing. Most of the time when he missed, it was down. That’s a very good sign that he’s getting more and more into the rhythm of things.”

Cincinnati’s Drew Stubbs hit a two-run homer off Kyle Farnsworth, who is trying to make the Royals’ starting rotation. Farnsworth hasn’t started a game in the majors since 2000 with the Chicago Cubs. He allowed five runs in 1 2-3 innings.

“I definitely like the results to be a little better but at the same time, I’m just trying to get a feel for things,” Farnsworth said.

Jonny Gomes added a three-run homer for Cincinnati.

Kansas City’s Brian Bannister gave up one hit over two scoreless innings. Bannister lost his last five decisions in 2009 and was shut down in September because of right shoulder fatigue.

“It’s been a while since I’ve pitched in competition,” Bannister said. “That’s why I tried to keep it simple. I didn’t want to walk anyone or do anything stupid.”

NOTES: The Reds and Brewers played a “B” game on Monday morning after they were rained out on Sunday. Cincinnati’s Homer Bailey struck out three in two scoreless innings. “Homer looked outstanding,” Baker said. “He was controlling that outside of the plate, low and away. He had good tempo, good rhythm. He had good velocity. He threw some good breaking balls. He should be pleased with it.”