Reds Phenom Chapman Leaves Game With Back Stiffness
Chapman, who seemed to have the edge in the competition to be Cincinnati's fifth starter, went for an examination by a doctor.
Monday evening, the Reds said Chapman was diagnosed with muscle spasms. He will be treated over the next few days and his status re-evaluated later this week, the team said.
"We don't think it's anything serious," manager Dusty Baker said after the game and before the diagnosis. "We took him out before it got worse."
Asked whether this might affect Chapman's chance to open the season in the Reds rotation, Baker said, "I don't know, man. Let's not speculate until we find out what's wrong."
Said pitching coach Bryan Price: "Hopefully, a couple of days of treatment and he's back on the mound competing again."
Making his fourth Cactus League appearance, Chapman was scheduled to pitch four innings, the sixth through the ninth, against the Rockies.
But in the seventh, he faced seven batters and got just two outs, allowing two hits, two walks, a wild pitch and four unearned runs -- although the error came on a hard-hit grounder.
"Not really hurt, just a little problem with the back that's been bothering me all week," Chapman said through interpreter Tony Fossas, a Reds minor-league pitching coach.
"It got stiffer as the game went on."
Chapman, 22, didn't tell the team about his back troubles before the game, or when Price visited the mound during the inning to remind him to use his fastball more.
But Chapman's consistent shaking off the catcher to off-speed stuff, his wincing and his attempts to stretch out his back on the mound tipped off the team. He had been hitting 100 mph this spring but touched 97 just once on Monday. His slider, changeup and sinker weren't consistent either.
"It was less effort to throw a slider than a fastball," Chapman said.
Baker called removing Chapman "precautionary."
"I was trying to work it out," Chapman said. "They took me out just in case."
Chapman -- signed to a six-year, $30.25 million deal in January after defecting from Cuba -- said he had never experienced back trouble before.
Price said the team would not have allowed Chapman to pitch had it known about his ongoing back trouble.
"We're not going to send guys out that have problems, that have ailments that we're aware of," Price said. "Sometimes guys are going to go out there and compete, and there's the lure of trying to make the team and things of that nature."
After Price's mound visit, Chapman allowed a three-run double to Jordan Pacheco and went to a 2-1 count on Chris Nelson. Then Baker, Price and trainer Paul Lessard came to the mound.
"I guess in Cuba," Baker said, "you're taught not to complain or not to say much.
"When we went out there, we had to kind of pull it out of him. At first he said, 'I'm all right.' I said, 'Tell me the truth. Something's wrong.' "
Chapman came into the game with a 1.29 ERA over seven innings, with four hits, two walks and 10 strikeouts. He had shown a 100-mph fastball, a 94-mph sinker, an inconsistent but potentially devastating slider and a 79-90-mph changeup.
And some savvy: He recently struck out Matt Kemp on back-to-back changeups after falling behind in the count 3-1.
"You can't judge [Monday's outing] at all, actually," Baker said. "He had been throwing too well."