Reds deem Jonathan Broxton ready to pitch … and close?

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Reds manager Bryan Price has already said that Jonathan Broxton would take over as Aroldis Chapman’s closer fill-in once healthy, so now that he’s off the disabled list it’ll be interesting to see if the big right-hander immediately jumps into ninth-inning duties.

Broxton has been sidelined since undergoing elbow surgery in August, but threw back-to-back scoreless innings on a minor-league rehab assignment at Double-A on Friday and Saturday to convince the Reds he’s ready.

Broxton has plenty of closing experience, including 27 saves as recently as 2012, but he was mediocre for the Reds before being shut down last season. He’ll try to hold the gig until Chapman is ready to return from facial fractures, which could happen as soon as late May.

Jim Hickey steps down as Cubs’ pitching coach

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The Cubs announced on Tuesday that Jim Hickey has stepped down as the pitching coach due to personal reasons. The club will begin a search for a replacement.

Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said in a statement, “Jim Hickey notified us yesterday of his decision to step down as pitching coach and leave the organization for personal reasons. We thank Jim for his season with the Cubs and his positive impact on our pitchers. Jim has our full support and we all wish him well.”

Hickey, 57, spent over a decade as a coach in the Rays organization before joining the Cubs for the past season, reuniting with Joe Maddon. The Cubs’ starting staff ranked 10th among all 30 teams with a 3.84 ERA and the bullpen posted an NL-best 3.35 ERA.