Dusty Baker on Aroldis Chapman: “We’re going to stretch him out” as a starter

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Initially the Reds planned to have Aroldis Chapman build up his arm strength as a starter in the Arizona Fall League and winter ball, but shoulder problems put that on hold and now the left-hander’s role for 2012 is somewhat unclear.

Dusty Baker said today that they’ll give Chapman an opportunity to start this spring and “if there’s not time and there’s not quality, you can always back off a guy.”

In other words, if he’s struggling to pitch multiple innings at a time–or if his shoulder starts barking again–the Reds can always shift him back to the bullpen. Baker also hinted that sending Chapman to the minors to continue working as a starter is a possibility that “depends on our needs.”

Chapman shifted to the bullpen full time in mid-2010 and has thrown 63 innings for the Reds with a 3.27 ERA and 90/46 K/BB ratio. His overpowering fastball velocity would be very intriguing if he can maintain it multiple times through the lineup, but Chapman’s shaky control would seemingly be an even bigger obstacle as a starter and the Reds already have a full rotation with Johnny Cueto, Mat Latos, Bronson Arroyo, Mike Leake, and Homer Bailey.

Marlins, Giants get into heated beanball war

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You may have heard that Giants closer Hunter Strickland broke his hand punching a door in frustration after Monday night’s subpar performance. He’ll miss six to eight weeks as a result. Strickland came in to protect a 4-2 lead but ended up giving up three runs. The tying run was knocked in by Lewis Brinson on a single to right field. Brinson moved to third base on a go-ahead single by Miguel Rojas, which prompted manager Bruce Bochy to take Strickland out of the game.

On his way to the dugout, Strickland started chirping at Brinson. Much like Bryce Harper and Strickland, Brinson and Strickland have a bit of a history. Last Thursday, Brinson handed Strickland a blown save with a sacrifice fly to deep center field. Brinson was happy to help his team tie the game, pumping his fast and saying, “Let’s go” at no one in particular. That rubbed Strickland the wrong way. Everything seems to rub Strickland the wrong way.

During Tuesday night’s game, Giants starter Dereck Rodriguez threw at Brinson with the first pitch, a 92 MPH fastball. Home plate umpire Andy Fletcher issued warnings to both benches. Manager Don Mattingly came out to argue, suggesting that his team hadn’t done anything wrong so it was unfair to essentially take the inside part of the plate away from his pitchers. On his way back to the dugout, Mattingly could be seen saying, “You’re next” to catcher Buster Posey.

The Giants scored twice in the bottom of the second against Dan Straily to extend their lead to 3-0. Posey came to the plate with a runner on first base and one out. Straily hit Posey with a 91 MPH fastball on the first pitch, prompting ejections of both Straily and Mattingly. Posey was hit on the arm. If the pitch had come in a bit lower and hit Posey on the wrist or hand, Posey might have had to go on the disabled list for a couple months. Or if the pitch had hit Posey a couple of inches higher, in the head, then who knows what would have happened.

Things calmed down from there, thankfully. The two clubs have one more game against each other in San Francisco on Wednesday and that will be the final time they meet this season. If anything further is going to happen — and hopefully, nothing happens — then it will come tomorrow.

Straily will almost certainly be facing a suspension and a fine, as will Mattingly. It’s less clear if Rodriguez and/or Bochy will be reprimanded for throwing at Brinson, even though it was fairly obvious the pitch was intentional. Regardless, the punishments amount to just one missed start for the pitchers, which isn’t nearly enough of a detriment to deter beanball wars.