PHILADELPHIA -- For a guy who had no designs on being a reliever, or even a closer, coming into this season, Reds All-Star pitcher Aroldis Chapman has quickly become the best closer in the business.
In the Reds' 3-2 win over the Phillies on Wednesday, Chapman closed the ninth inning for Bronson Arroyo and recorded his 31st save. The 24-year-old also notched his 23rd straight save to tie the club's consecutive-saves record held by both John Franco (1988) and Rob Dibble (1991).
"I didn't know anything. I just found out," Chapman said. "They just told me when they gave me the lineup card that I tied the record. I'm happy. I'm proud and feel very happy to help the team."
Chapman had his lower left leg on ice after he was hit by Ty Wigginton's broken bat on an RBI single. The Cuban said he was not bothered by the incident and should be OK.
Over 58 games, Chapman has a 1.31 ERA and one less hit (30) than he has saves over 62 innings. The triple-digit-velocity left-hander didn't even become the closer until May 20.
"I went to the bullpen and did the job they told me to. Then I became a closer and did my job as a closer," said Chapman, via interpreter Tomas Vera. "It started getting as it is now. I started liking it. Now I know if one day, I have to be a closer, I know I can do it. Right now, I'm really liking what I'm doing."
Injuries to Ryan Madson, Nick Masset and Bill Bray decimated the bullpen in Spring Training and forced the Reds' hand into using Chapman in a relief role. Would he want to have another chance to start in 2013, or would he now prefer being a closer? Chapman left that answer open-ended.
"I don't know," he replied. "At this time, all that goes through my mind is to be a closer. After this, I don't know what could happen. In my mind right now, I am a closer."
National League hitters are batting .120 vs. Chapman, and his ERA vs. NL clubs is 0.32. His ability to shut down a game was on full display during Tuesday's 5-4 win over the Phillies. The Reds' bullpen blew leads in both the seventh and eighth innings, but Chapman shut the door in the ninth. His final batter, Chase Utley, struck out on a 102-mph fastball.
There was a two-week span in June when Chapman was very human, going 0-4 with two blown saves over a seven-game stretch. But he hasn't blown a save since June 24 vs. the Twins.
"Nothing really happened. I had a bad time," Chapman said. "I don't remember what has made the difference. I just had bad games and they all came in a row."
Getting used to pitching on back-to-back days, and occasionally three straight days, was a process for Chapman. But he feels more durable as the season nears its stretch run.
"I feel like now my arm feels good and I bounce back well," Chapman said. "I feel good. I recuperate real fast."
Frazier making Reds' future decisions difficult
PHILADELPHIA -- Whenever the day comes that Joey Votto returns to the Reds' lineup from a left knee injury, manager Dusty Baker will have the so-called good problem.
What becomes of Todd Frazier's playing time? Frazier, a National League Rookie of the Year candidate, has filled in very well for Votto, batting .315 in his previous 35 games with eight home runs and 25 RBIs. Before the All-Star break, Frazier handled third base solidly for Scott Rolen.
"Joey is going to play. Nobody is better at third than Scott, and he's coming on quickly," Baker said on Wednesday. "Sometimes when you're on a real good team, you've got to wait your turn to play every day. It's fortunate that he's had this opportunity. He wouldn't have been playing every day had Joey and Rolen [not been hurt].
"It's fortunate for us that we have him and fortunate for him that he could show what he can do. At some point in time, the world is going to be his. Now it's partially his, which isn't a bad spot to be in."
Overall, Frazier entered Wednesday batting .294, with his 55 RBIs and .562 slugging percentage leading NL rookies and his 18 homers ranked second.
Several factors affect Reds' callup of Hamilton
PHILADELPHIA -- Reds top prospect and shortstop Billy Hamilton stole three bases on Tuesday for Double-A Pensacola to reach 147 for the season and break Vince Coleman's single-season professional baseball record of 145, set in 1983.
"I know the guys [whose records he broke]," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "I know Vince Coleman. Donnell Nixon played for me. That's a tremendous feat, especially with the amount of running you have to do. Your legs have to be in great shape with the pounding that you take from sliding. The fact he's been able to do that and stay healthy is a remarkable feat. Someday he will be here."
One enticing question is whether the Reds might make Hamilton a September callup for the stretch run and use him solely as a pinch-runner. Hamilton's steal total buries the Reds' season total of 72 entering Wednesday.
"It's been discussed. It's not my decision," Baker said. "You've got a lot of factors here. Once you put him on the roster, you have to keep him on the roster or somebody can claim him. We've asked about him, big time. There is more factors here than just me wanting him here."
The Reds aren't required to protect Hamilton on the 40-man roster until after the 2013 season. Calling him up in September would also start the service-time clock toward arbitration eligibility.
Frazier, who hails from Toms River, N.J., which is relatively close to Philadelphia, has left two dozen tickets for family and friends.
"And there was a good amount of other people that came, friends and people from back home that I know," Frazier said. "It's special, that's all I can say."
Baker is scheduled to hold a conference call on Thursday with members of the Uganda team that competed in the Little League World Series.