Chapman sharp, Reds lose
Here is what you need to know from the split-squad Reds 4-3 loss to the Rockies on Thursday:
*Chapman watch: One fine first spring start does not a rotation spot make, but Aroldis Chapman looked very good as he retired all six batters faced with one strikeout. I sat behind the plate with the scouts for those two innings and saw a lot more off-speed stuff than I expected for a first outing. He split-fingered fastball and slider were moving and diving and hitters failed to make good contact. There were four groundouts, one pop up and final batter Ramon Hernandez struck out on a slider in the dirt during a solid nine-pitch at-bat. I will have much more on Chapman on a story for MLB.com.
“That was nice,” pitching coach Bryan Price said. “He was able to repeat some good pitches. He threw different pitches for strikes – the fastball, the slider and the split [fingered pitch]. He was pretty sharp for this early in camp.”
*Zack Cozart made a very nice diving stop to his left to rob D.J. LeMahieu of a hit in the third inning. Denver Post beat writer Troy Renck went so far as to to tweet that Cozart pounced “like a puma” on the play.
*Cozart did not fare as well, or like a puma, in the fifth when he grounded into a 5-4-3 triple play. It was the so-called “bang-bang” play as it was hit right to third baseman Nolan Arenado right near the bag. Second baseman Eric Young Jr. did a great job turning and firing to first base as Denis Phipps was bearing down on him. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it was the first Spring Training triple play since 2010 when the Red Sox turned one.
No. 2 catcher battle: Miguel Olivo started the game and was 0-for-2. Devin Mesoraco replaced Olivo and was 1-for-2 with a two-out, two-run single to left field in the seventh.
*Billy Hamilton watch: Hamilton was 0-for-1 with a strikeout. He entered as a pinch-runner and scored on Brandon Phillips’ RBI double in the sixth.
*Finally, pre-game festivities at Salt River Fields had NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Brad Keselowski doing a lap in his No. 2 car. Keselowski burned some rubber in the center field tunnel as he exited the park afterwards.