Arolids Chapman looks good on his first day of camp

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One of the things I’m most eager to see this spring is how Aroldis Chapman does. He’s such an unknown compared to everyone else. He’s been hyped to the nth degree. Is the hype justified? If so, he could prove to be a real difference maker, helping turn a Reds team that currently qualifies, competitively speaking, as “interesting” into one that is genuinely “frisky.”

We won’t have a clear take on Champan’s progress for a while of course, but yesterday he made his debut in Reds camp and things went well

The ball seemed to snap in Hernandez’s glove as he shouted instructions and encouragement in Spanish. Watching their
$30 million investment pitch — GM Walt Jocketty, assistant GM Bob
Miller, scout Jerry Walker, manager Dusty Baker and pitching coach
Bryan Price. Tony Fossas, the Class A Dayton pitching coach and Cuban
native, translated coaching instructions from behind the mound . . . “Very impressive,” Jocketty said. “I’d like to see him when a hitter
gets in there. He showed good command. Everything was right around the
strike zone. I watched him do his fielding drills over there and that
was pretty good.”

Maybe the coolest thing about this is the Tony Fossas sighting.  He’s the ultimate survivor, isn’t he? He wisely or luckily signed with the Cardinals just before they hired Tony La Russa, whose thing for situational lefties likely helped extend his career into his 40s. He takes a job with the Reds just before they sign the most highly-touted Cuban prospect in history, his Cuban heritage likely buying him a little more job security.

When the nukes start flying, I’m going to be wherever Tony Fossas is, because that dude will no doubt be in the right place. 

Check out Minute Maid Park without Tal’s Hill

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During the offseason, the Astros finally got rid of Tal’s Hill in center field. It was a throwback to older stadiums, some of which had uneven topography — Crosley Field, namely. As unique as it was in the age of cookie cutter sports stadiums, most of us were holding our collective breaths hoping no one ruptured an Achilles or suffered another brutal injury trying to navigate the hill while attempting to catch a fly ball.

We saw what it looked like during reconstruction:

And now, via Julia Morales of ROOT Sports, we see what it looks like after all the work has been done:

The Astros are allowing fans with Lexus Field Club tickets to stand on the new warning track to watch batting practice and shag fly balls as well, Morales notes. Lexus Field Club is where Tal’s Hill used to be.

Good riddance, Tal’s Hill.

Jhoulys Chacin will start Opening Day for the Padres

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Jhoulys Chacin will start on Opening Day, April 3 against the Dodgers in Los Angeles, Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. It will be Chacin’s second Opening Day start, the other coming in 2013 with the Rockies against the Brewers. He’ll be the fifth different Padres pitcher in as many years to start on Opening Day.

Chacin, 29, inked a one-year, $1.75 million contract with the Padres in December. The right-hander spent the 2016 season with the Braves and Angels, compiling an aggregate 4.81 ERA with a 119/55 K/BB ratio in 144 innings.

Lin notes that Chacin will be followed in the rotation by Clayton Richard and Jered Weaver. It will be an interesting rotation, to say the least, as it will arguably be the worst in baseball.