Reds playing wait and see with Chapman
Prospect to receive back treatment, held out of action
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Cuban sensation Aroldis Chapman's back spasms have created questions that were mostly without answers in Reds camp on Wednesday morning.There was no idea yet when Chapman would resume throwing or if the injury torpedoed his chances to make the Reds' rotation as the fifth starter. "We're not there yet," manager Dusty Baker said. "That's looking too far into the future. I hate to speculate about it. He'll get treatment, and I hope that it's OK. I don't think it's anything serious. "You know how backs are. They can let you go tomorrow or keep you around for another week or 10 days. I hope not, but you just don't know." While things hold in wait-and-see mode, one thing was clear on the clubhouse bulletin board. Chapman was not on the upcoming list of pitchers scheduled to throw in big league or Minor League games through March 30. If he is out of action that long, it would likely prevent him from getting enough innings to start the season in the big leagues. Chapman pitched 1 2/3 innings of relief on Monday vs. the Rockies before he was removed as a precaution due to a stiff lower back. The diagnosis was later reported as spasms. He will be evaluated again later this week. On Wednesday morning, Chapman had changed out of his uniform and back to street clothes to leave the complex. It turned out to have nothing to do with his injury. The Cuban defector was leaving to get a social security card and handle other bureaucratic paperwork.
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Treatments were scheduled to resume later Wednesday when Chapman returned.Chapman apparently had the back trouble even before his outing on Monday but kept the information to himself until it became obvious he was hurting. Before he left the complex, Baker had the 22-year-old in his office for a meeting. Spanish-speaking player development special assistant Julio Garcia was also there. Baker had encountered secretive Cuban players before when he managed the Giants, with former defectors Osvaldo Fernandez and Livan Hernandez. Besides dealing with Chapman's background, this is also a young kid who simply wants to make the team. "I told him this morning that, 'You're no longer where you were,'" Baker said. "'Anything that happens that you feel, you come and tell me without feeling like you're being a wimp about it.' "There's a thin line between, 'Are you a hypochondriac?' and, 'When are you being too bold and brave?' It varies per person and what their pain threshold is or how they were raised." The Reds signed Chapman to a six-year, $30.25 million contract in January.
Through four games, including one start, the left-hander has a 1.04 ERA in his 8 1/3 innings with four walks and a team-leading 12 strikeouts. He was having the best spring among the seven candidates for the fifth spot.
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.