SAN DIEGO -- For fans that watched "Chapman's comet" zoom through the air Friday night, it turned out they saw something extra special.Reds lefty sensation Aroldis Chapman's 105.1-mph pitch to Tony Gwynn in the eighth inning was the fastest speed ever reliably recorded on the Pitch/FX system. When 105 appeared on the scoreboard, PETCO Park echoed with a collective 'Ooooh.' The previous high was 104.8 mph from the Tigers' Joel Zumaya on Oct. 10, 2006, vs. Frank Thomas of the A's. Reds manager Dusty Baker said Saturday it was the best he'd seen Chapman throw in his 11 big league games. All 25 of Chapman's pitches to San Diego were 100 mph or higher. Nights like that will no doubt increase the speculation that Chapman should be installed as the Reds closer, a position currently held by Francisco Cordero, who is signed through next season and will make $12 million. "Last night, was after four or five days off too," Baker said. "That is something we've come to learn. He went three days in a row and he was a little tender and we had to shut him down. This is something new to him and his arm too. Sometimes your closer has to be able to go three, four, five days in a row. He's in the process. He's learning." The prevailing thoughts from the Reds' front office have been that Chapman would likely return to a starting role in 2011. But then again ... "I didn't say that," Baker said. "I haven't seen him enough to know what to make him yet. We discussed him relieving about halfway through the season. He's learning how to do that. He's been very, very valuable to us in that role. I know everyone wants me to give him the closing role, but not yet."
Wood impresses as he competes for spot
SAN DIEGO -- Trying to earn a spot in the postseason rotation, Reds starter Travis Wood provided a nice outing, but got a no-decision after a 4-3 Reds loss on Saturday. He worked seven innings and allowed three earned runs and six hits with one walk and five strikeouts. Wood is winless in his last four starts with all the games decided by three runs or fewer. He is 1-2 with a 3.30 ERA in five September starts."I felt good out there and pitched pretty good," Wood said. "They put a couple on me, but I was able to stay strong and battle back. We kept it close and it didn't turn out for us today." Over his last three starts, totaling 18 innings, Wood has walked one and struck out 18. He is competing with Edinson Volquez and Homer Bailey for the remaining rotation spots for the National League Division Series once the Reds clinch the NL Central. "He only made a couple of location mistakes. Other than that, he gave us seven good strong innings," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "He was in trouble but a couple of times. He showed good command. You can't get much better than that." As a hitter, Wood also was 2-for-3 with a double and an RBI infield hit.
Leake set to throw third bullpen session
SAN DIEGO --- Mike Leake is just 5-foot-9 but stood real tall throughout his stellar first half of the season. Having not pitched since Aug. 24 because of right shoulder fatigue, the rookie Reds pitcher has been just as conspicuous by his absence lately.Leake was activated from the disabled list Sept. 10, but the only pitches he's thrown have been during side bullpen sessions. He's had two and is scheduled to throw another one on Sunday. He's up to around 35 pitches and no one is closing the bullpen door permanently about him being able to help the club in the playoffs. "If there wasn't a chance of me getting ready, I wouldn't be throwing bullpens right now. I'd just be shut down," Leake said Saturday. "If I can get up to 50-60 pitches and a simulated game, I'll be ready." "He's feeling stronger. We haven't really made a determination," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "If he's feeling right, [he will pitch]. If not, then no. he's working toward it." Leake went straight to the Majors this spring after a successful career at Arizona State, but is a San Diego native. This weekend, he won't get to pitch in his hometown. "It would be nice to throw in front of people that watched me when I was younger," Leake said. "I'm sure hopefully at some point, it will happen." Leake, 22, is 8-4 with a 4.23 ERA in 24 games, including 22 starts. He's thrown 138 1/3 innings during his first professional season. The Reds have only seven games left in the regular season after Saturday, and having not pitched for a month stacks the odds against Leake for getting on the postseason roster. Prevailing wisdom is he'd need to get into a game or two to even have a chance. "I'm sure they would like that," Leake said. "I don't know if they'd want to blindly go into it without me facing hitters. Then again, I'm sure there have been weirder things that have happened."
Votto homers in return to Reds' lineup
SAN DIEGO -- First baseman and National League MVP candidate Joey Votto was back in the Reds' starting lineup Saturday after he missed three starts with a sinus infection. Votto, who was taking Vitamin C among his remedies, said he was feeling better.It showed as Votto went 2-for-3 with an RBI single and a solo homer in the Reds' 4-3 loss to the Padres.
During Friday's 4-3 loss to San Diego, Votto was used as a pinch-hitter in the top of the ninth in a tough situation. He had to face hard-throwing closer Heath Bell and struck out on three pitches."I just hadn't had an at-bat in a while or hit on the field," Votto said. "That type of stuff tends to help. I felt like a fish out of water there. But I'm sure I will be fine today."
Phillips moved down in lineup
SAN DIEGO -- Struggling Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips was moved down from his usual leadoff spot to the No. 7 spot on Saturday vs. the Padres. Phillips, who went 1-for-4 with a run scored in the Reds' 4-3 loss to the Padres, switched places with center fielder Drew Stubbs, who batted first."I think it's necessary for him and us right now," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "He's had a tough month since he got hit in the hand. Sometimes you get dropped down, and it takes a little heat off you. You're not in charge of igniting the engine so to speak. You get four at-bats instead of five. When you're struggling, those at-bats pile up on you, especially when you're not a high-walk person." Phillips hasn't been the same since being hit on the right hand by a pitch Aug. 25. In 21 games since his return from that injury, he is batting .149 (13-for-87). On Friday, he was 0-for-4 with a walk. His frustration could be seen when he popped out to first base for the third out and left runners on first and second base. "He wasn't injured enough to be on the DL, but he was hurt enough to affect him," Baker said.