Reds phenom Chapman exits early (back stiffness)

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Update: The Reds announced that Chapman departed with lower back stiffness, a problem that had plagued him all week. Chapman was set to be examined after the game. The feeling is that this could knock him out of the competition for a rotation spot.

Aroldis Chapman left his appearance in his second inning of work Monday accompanied by the Reds’ trainer after laboring the Rockies.
Chapman, pitching in relief of Bronson Arroyo, had an easy sixth inning versus Colorado before struggling during a 30-pitch seventh inning. Throwing mostly offspeed pitches, he walked two and gave up four runs, all of which were unearned. His departure immediately followed a three-run double.
Given that the Reds wouldn’t have wanted to extend him too far in a single inning of work, Chapman might have been done then anyway. Still, it wasn’t a good sign that manager Dusty Baker, pitching coach Bryan Price and trainer Paul Lessard all went to the mound to see him, and Lessard joined him as he walked off the mound.
If Chapman is hurt, even if it’s a minor problem, then there’d seem to be little chance of him beginning the season in the Reds’ rotation. Matt Maloney and Justin Lehr would be the top candidates to replace him.

Mets invite Tim Tebow to spring training

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Tim Tebow isn’t letting go of his major league dreams just yet. The former NFL quarterback is slated to appear with the Mets during spring training this year, extending what initially looked like an ill-fated career choice for at least one more season. Per the club’s official announcement on Friday, he’ll join a group of spring training invitees that includes top-30 prospects like Peter Alonso, P.J. Conlon, Patrick Mazeika and David Thompson.

Tebow, 30, hasn’t taken to professional baseball as gracefully as expected. He batted a cumulative .226/.309/.347 with eight home runs and a .656 OPS in 486 plate appearances for Single-A Columbia and High-A St. Lucie in 2017. While that wasn’t enough to compel the Mets to give the aging outfielder a big league tryout, there’s no denying that Tebow brought substantial benefit to their minor league affiliates — in the form of increased attendance figures and ticket sales, that is.

Even after the Mets were booted from the NL East race last September, they resisted the idea of promoting Tebow for a late-season attendance boost of their own. That’s not to say they’re planning on taking the same approach in 2018; Tebow will undoubtedly get his cup of coffee in the majors at some point, but for now, a Grapefruit League tryout is likely as close as he’ll ever get to playing with the team’s big league roster on an everyday basis.