Reds say Chapman likely to remain closer

Reds say Chapman likely to remain closer

Reds say Chapman likely to remain closer

CINCINNATI -- Fans have grown accustomed to the excitement Reds closer Aroldis Chapman brings when he emerges from the bullpen to lock down a game.

On Wednesday, Reds general manager Walt Jocketty indicated that Chapman would likely remain the Reds' closer in 2014. There had been speculation again over whether Chapman could move into the rotation.

"We feel we have the depth in our rotation now that we can continue to keep him in the bullpen," Jocketty told MLB Network Radio on Wednesday. "That's probably the plan going into Spring Training. We'll have him prepare for Spring Training like he has in the past. He'll come in and pitch a lot of innings in Spring Training, so he could go either way. In all likelihood when we get to Spring Training, we'll make a decision. I would think he'll continue to be our closer."

Chapman has posted 38 saves out of 43 attempts in each of the last two seasons as closer. Last season, he was 4-5 with a 2.54 ERA in 68 games.

On Wednesday evening, new manager Bryan Price, who was previously the Reds' pitching coach the last four seasons, wasn't ready to commit exactly on Chapman's 2014 role.

"We've had some internal dialogue on that," Price said. "I don't think it's something where I feel comfortable with saying, 'This is exactly what we're going to do.' I have my opinion on it. I know that his value for us that last couple of years has been as a closer."

Last winter, Price advocated for the use of Chapman in the rotation to get more from him. Although Chapman went to Spring Training to compete for a rotation spot, he ultimately stayed as closer.

However, Price opened the door to the idea that Chapman's role could be expanded beyond the ninth inning.

Chapman, who will turn 26 in February and will be entering his fifth season in the Majors, pitched more than one inning twice in all of 2013. He worked two innings on Aug. 21 vs. Arizona, and 1 1/3 innings on Sept. 14 at Milwaukee.

"He found his way into a comfortable position. I do think we can utilize him more in the bullpen instead a guy that may be a single-inning guy now that he's done this for a few years," Price said. "I think there are ways we can get more value out of Aroldis, not necessarily by starting him but keeping him in the bullpen. There's still a bit more dialogue to have organizationally before we put a stamp on what role he'll have. Right now, I'm very comfortable with where he is."

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Mark My Word, and follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.