12/08/12 4:58 PM ET
Chapman bittersweet about move to rotation
Left-hander ready for new challenge, but will miss the closer role
By Mark Sheldon / MLB.com
"One part of me is happy for it. The other part is not," Chapman said via interpreter Tomas Vera during his appearance at Redsfest on Saturday. "The part I don't like is I enjoyed being a closer and now I'm going to miss it. I still like it as a starter. I would love to do both, because I've had fun doing both."
Last week, the Reds re-signed free agent reliever Jonathan Broxton to a three-year, $21 million contract with the intent of making him the closer. The club would like to see if Chapman can succeed as a starter, which was what he was doing when signed out of Cuba in 2010 to a six-year, $30.25 million contract.
Chapman, who will turn 25 in February, was 5-5 with a 1.51 ERA, 23 walks and 122 strikeouts in 68 relief appearances last season. Although he did not become the closer until May 20, Chapman was tied for third in the National League with 38 saves in 43 attempts. He had a single-season record 27 consecutive saves from June 26-Sept. 4.
Of course, Chapman also brought ninth inning electricity that came with his 100-plus mph fastball and shutdown ability. However, he was the Reds' best starter in Spring Training last year before injuries to Ryan Madson, Nick Masset and Bill Bray forced the club's hand to use him in the bullpen.
"They talked to me and told me I'm going to be back as a starter," Chapman said. "All I'm doing is getting ready and preparing to work as a starter."
Leake preparing to start, but role undecided
CINCINNATI -- Reds starter Mike Leake heard that his team's signing of Jonathan Broxton to be the closer -- and moving Aroldis Chapman to the rotation -- would have repercussions.
"If that's what they decide, it's going to directly affect me," Leake said on Saturday during Redsfest. "I don't know what they have completely decided."
The Reds have made no formal rotation decisions and will let things shake out during Spring Training. Leake was the fifth starter in 2012 and had an inconsistent year. After a 0-5 start, the right-hander finished 8-9 with a 4.58 ERA in a career-high 30 starts and 179 innings.
Leake was told by the club to prepare himself as a starter. The Reds still don't know how many starts or innings Chapman will get in 2013.
"Maybe they'll wait a couple of months and then throw him, kind of the opposite of [Nationals ace Stephen] Strasburg," Leake said. "I don't know. Hopefully they give the five a chance to prove ourselves a little bit and if one of us is slacking off or doing something they weren't expecting, then throw him in the rotation. Hopefully they let us ride a little bit."
Reds to incorporate 'Los Rojos' jerseys in 2013
CINCINNATI -- One of the Reds players' jerseys was not like the others during a main stage appearance at Redsfest.
The front of rotation ace Johnny Cueto's No. 47 jersey said "Los Rojos," as the club is planning a Spanish-language alternate look for 2013. Cueto is from the Dominican Republic.
The alternate jersey will be worn for select games that have yet to be determined, but it's likely they could be seen on Hispanic heritage nights or Cinco de Mayo.
"We saw the Brewers do this with Los Cervezeros," said Karen Forgus, the Reds' senior vice president of business operations. "There is an appetite for the fans to buy them. They sell well in other markets."