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Prior shines; still no word on Chapman


You know the Aroldis Chapman saga has become a full-blown circus when it trumps the comeback of former Cubs great Mark Prior.

After one media source released on Thursday that Chapman would officially be named the team’s closer, the organization declined to confirm that rumor, insisting that although the media keep asking, no official decision has been made.

Meanwhile, the team’s ace starter didn’t have one of his better showings.

Johnny Cueto was roughed up for five hits and five earned runs as the Reds dropped a 10-8 decision to Oakland.

But the real story of the day was Prior, who continued his comeback with a full inning of no-hit ball. Prior faced four batters, hitting one, striking out one, and getting a fly out and a ground out.

Although he still doesn’t figure into the Reds plans, the former Cubs star was happy to be back in a major-league setting.

“I was just trying to throw strikes. I was a little up, a little rushed probably on 50 percent of the pitches,” Prior said afterward. “For the first time not doing it in a big-league environment in a couple years, it was good.”

Prior had stints with the Padres, Rangers, Yankees and Red Sox but hasn’t made a big-league appearance since 2006. He was an All-Star with the Cubs in 2003.

He had a number of Grapefruit League starts with the Yankees in 2010, so he wasn’t too fazed by the competition level, but said he was grateful to get the chance to match up against the A’s after pitching in the Reds’ minor-league camp thus far.

“You still want to know if your stuff still plays,” Prior said. “It’s always nice to get out there and see.”

Just being around fellow baseball players is a blessing for Prior, who finished 18-6 for the Cubs back in 2003.

“I’m here to play, I want to play, I enjoy playing. If I can help in any way, kids, or guys, or whoever, that’s great,” Prior said. “Until they rip the uniform off, you just go play. You do what you can until the opportunities don’t exist anymore or if you physically can’t do it. That’s my mindset.”

More pitching: The Chapman issue continues to press on, and the fireballer is expected to throw Friday when the Reds square off with the Dodgers at Camelback Ranch (4:05 p.m. EST). Chapman, who has given up a pair of earned runs in eight innings, will follow Mike Leake.

Jonathan Broxton and Armando Galarraga got some work in Thursday. Broxton threw for the Reds’ Class AA team Pensacola in a meeting with Chattanooga. Galarraga pitched for Class AAA Louisville against Albuquerque.

Extra bases: Derrick Robinson continued his strong showing, banging out a double and adding a home run while leading off Thursday. Robinson, who is hitting nearly .400 this spring, has been getting extra work in center field while Shin-Soo Choo tries to heal from back spasms. … Zack Cozart had three hits, raising his average to .325.


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