After Saturday’s late news that Aroldis Chapman would prefer to stay in the role of closer, Dusty Baker said he wasn’t ready to talk much more about the topic on Sunday. Even with Chapman.
Baker said prior to the Reds’ 7-7 tie with the Indians at Goodyear Ballpark that he wasn’t planning to speak with the star pitcher until some time today.
Or at least that’s what he told the media.
“I didn’t talk to him, I didn’t want to talk to him the day he pitched, or even the day after he pitched. I was going to talk to him tomorrow with the night game,” Baker said. “He seems kind of happy. He was jovial on the outside. But if we did talk, I can’t tell you what we talked about.”
After he threw four innings of two-hit ball against the Giants on Sunday, Chapman told the media he warmed to the idea of closer in his first season, saying through a translator that he’d like to keep the job, but knows it’s not for him to decide.
Baker has insisted he wants a decision to be made on Chapman’s status in the near future, saying the indecision is making it difficult to put his roster together. He has hinted, however, that he liked having the combination of Jonathan Broxton and Chapman when games got late.
“It gives you a luxury if Chapman is the closer, that if Chapman has too many consecutive days, then (Broxton) can close. In a day of specialty, the eighth inning seems to be damn near as tough as the ninth inning. Or tougher,” Baker said. “You better have some good guys that late in the game, seven through nine, or you’ll never get to the ninth.
“Last year, what did we have, the best bullpen in the world?”
Indeed, the bullpen had the league’s best earned run average after Chapman emerged as the closer.
Stubbs sighting: Drew Stubbs legged out a third-inning single, bringing home the first run for the Indians. Interestingly enough, Baker had asked the media during the morning sitdown about the former Reds center fielder.
“How’s Stubby doin’ over there?” Baker said. “I’m pulling for him to do well.”
Stubbs, who showed power and speed in his time with Cincinnati, came into Sunday’s game hitting just over .200 and led the Tribe with 10 strikeouts. During his tenure with the Reds, that was Stubbs’ biggest downfall — he led the National League with 205 strikeouts.
Baker said he tries to keep tabs on former players, especially once spring training has ended.
“I keep an eye on everybody. It’s easier during the season to do that than it is now,” Baker said. “I don’t study the rosters. I don’t have time.”
Making his mark: Among those listed to throw on Thursday is Mark Prior, the former Cubs star who is trying to make another comeback.
Prior, who pitched for Boston’s Triple-A team last season in Pawtucket, played for Baker during four of his five seasons in the majors. Since he was a non-roster invitee, Prior won’t get many chances.
“I’ve got a pretty good idea of what he can do,” Baker said. “I know he’s been working and training. I hope that he’s far enough along that he’s able to pitch the way we know he can pitch, that he’s had enough time. Maybe somewhere down the road, he can help us.”
Extra bases: Xavier Paul continued his solid spring, smacking a three-run homer to straightaway center in the first inning off Beavercreek High School graduate Justin Masterson. The ball bombed off the wall in center, which has a yellow stripe that marks a home run. For Paul, it was second homer of the season, and gave him eight hits in his last 22 at-bats. … Paul wasn’t the only one to have his way with Masterson early; Todd Frazier followed with a two-run homer a couple batters later. … The Reds donned their green hats on St. Patrick’s Day. … Bronson Arroyo is scheduled to get the start tonight in a rare night game against Colorado. Others expected to see the hill include J.J. Hoover, Drew Hayes and Clay Hensley.