Aroldis Chapman fans three batters, earns save vs. Rockies in his 2014 regular season debut

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Aroldis Chapman made a triumphant return to the Reds’ bullpen Sunday afternoon at Great American Ball Park, earning a save and striking out three in his first appearance of the 2014 regular season. He issued a leadoff walk to Troy Tulowitzki in a 4-1 game but then rallied to fan Carlos Gonzalez, Nolan Arenado, and Justin Morneau in order.

Chapman hit 101 mph on his final pitch, and 15 of his 21 deliveries were clocked at 100 mph or higher.

The fireballing Cuban left-hander suffered fractures around his nose and left eye when he was struck by a comebacker in a March 19 spring game. He showed no shyness on the mound Sunday. Here’s the final strike, courtesy of MLB.com

Chapman entered 2014 with a 2.40 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, and 324 strikeouts in 198 2/3 career innings.

Ian Kinsler lists the five toughest pitchers in the AL Central

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Every now and then, The Players’ Tribune runs a “five toughest” feature. In 2015, David Ortiz listed the five toughest pitchers he ever faced. Last month, Christian Yelich wrote up the five toughest pitchers in the NL East. Now, it’s Ian Kinsler‘s turn with the five toughest pitchers in the AL Central.

Kinsler goes into detail explaining why each pitcher is difficult to face, so hop over to The Players’ Tribune for his reasoning. His list

Presumably, Kinsler intentionally omitted his Tiger teammates from the list. He has faced Justin Verlander a fair amount earlier in his career, and he has only a .176/.333/.235 batting line in 42 plate appearances against the right-hander. Verlander’s stuff is often described as tough to hit in one phrase or another. Kinsler has also struggled against Indians starter Carlos Carrasco (.590 OPS), but one can understand why he would be omitted from a list of five given who was already listed.

Angels demote C.J. Cron to Triple-A

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Angels first baseman C.J. Cron hit a grand slam against the Mets on Sunday, but it wasn’t enough to keep his spot on the major league roster as the club announced his demotion to Triple-A Salt Lake on Monday. Infielder Nolan Fantana has been promoted from Salt Lake.

Cron, 27, was hitting a disappointing .232/.281/.305 with one home run and RBI in 90 plate appearances. I guess you can say that wasn’t the kind of Cron job the Angels were expecting. Cron was an above-average hitter in each of his first three seasons, finishing with an OPS+, or adjusted OPS, of 111, 106, and 115 (100 is average).

While Cron is figuring things out in the minors, Luis Valbuena, Jefry Marte, and Albert Pujols could each see some time at first base.