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View Full Version : Aroldis Chapman press conference (2/22/10)



OnBaseMachine
02-22-2010, 02:52 PM
The Reds held a big press conference today to introduce Aroldis Chapman to the media. I posted this in another thread but I'll just create a new thread since there probably will be numerous articles and videos from local and national media. C. Trent and others are tweeting live from the press conference and have already posted a few videos.

Here are some tweets from the press conference:

Fay:

Jocketty on Chapman: The sooner he gets to Cincinnati the better for us. But we're not going to rush him.

Baker on Chapman and other pitchers: If you're better than him, you're going to pitch.

What's impressed BPrice about Chapman? "his baseball intellect, baseball savvy."

Chapman left a wife and child behind.

http://twitter.com/johnfayman

C. Trent:

jocketty: 'we don't have a timetable, I don't think it's good to have a timetable'

baker says chapman going into spring contending for rotation

baker: 'we've got to pit the money behind us... the money is on what he might do'

baker: 'he has super talent' also praise chapman's baseball intellect

price: 'we understood he thre hard, what we didn't know was his coachability'

price: 'if I was 21, 22 and had that control I may not have gone to college'

price: 'by the time he got here, he'd addressed two of the concerns I had from watching the WBC'

chapman says biggest challenges are food and language

chapman says the money's not a big deal, just gets what he needs at a store. he says he's a simple guy

http://twitter.com/ctrent

OnBaseMachine
02-22-2010, 02:54 PM
Video of Walt Jocketty talking about the signing:

http://www.mobypicture.com/user/johnfayman/view/6053635

Video of Chapman speaking:

http://www.mobypicture.com/user/johnfayman/view/6053703

OnBaseMachine
02-22-2010, 05:00 PM
Chapman’s 40 minutes of bewilderment
By Hal McCoy | Monday, February 22, 2010, 03:19 PM

GOODYEAR, Ariz. — For nearly 40 minutes, 22-year-old Aroldis Chapman sat in a chair in front of a large media gathering, a nice smile on his face as he mostly stared at the hands he had folded in his lap.

For nearly 40 minutes, Cincinnati Reds general manager Walt Jocketty talked and manager Dusty Baker talked and pitching coach Bryan Price talked.

Chapman listened - and didn’t understand a single word. He knew people were talking about him, but didn’t understand one syllable unless he heard his name or the word Cuba or Cuban. Then he looked up and smiled.

Other than that he was like a thoroughbred horse at auction, knowing something special was going on but not aware of the nuances.

How tough must that be on a young man in a strange new world?

AND WHEN IT came time for him to answer questions through Cuban coach/interpreter Tony Fossas, Chapman handled it with poise and pride.

“I don’t smile a lot,” he said, although he smiled for the entire press conference. “I just like to be at the field with my baseball friends.”

Chapman has nobody. He left behind his mother, father, wife and eight-month-old daughter, plus all his friends and baseball teammates.

“It was a very hard decision, but as they say in Cuba, ‘You have to be brave and you have to make the move,’” he said.

“I’ve talked to my family on the phone and hopefully some time, if God prevails, sometime in the next year I’ll see them again,” he said.

Somebody asked if he looked forward to facing any particular major-leaguers and Jocketty jumped in by saying, “They don’t get to see a lot of major-league baseball in Cuba, which might help.”Yeah, he might be asking, “Albert Who? Who is this Pujols guy?’ “

AFTER THE MEDIA conference, pitching coach Price stood outside the door and elaborated on Chapman and what he said was stunning.

The word is out that he can throw 99 to 100 miles an hour and somebody allegedly clocked him at 105 on one pitch, but Price added. “He has a great slider when he catches it right. Of course, at his age and experience, he doesn’t always catch it right. When he does, it’s the best lefthanded slider I’ve seen since Randy Johnson.

“It doesn’t come out as frequently right now as it will, but that’s what we have to polish on this kid,” Price added. “We aren’t going to try to change much. He likes to throw long toss, throw the ball a long way. And maybe that’s how he built up his arm strength. I’m never going to strip him of what he has been taught to do.”

Price laughed and said the first time Chapman tried a pickoff move, it was very ordinary, “So we stopped him to show him a better one. But he said, ‘No, no. That wasn’t my best pickoff move. I have four of them.’ “

Chapman hasn’t faced hitters yet and exhibition games will determine where he begins the season, but Price sees the future and it is sunlight bright.

“You all heard of Fernando-mania?” said Price. referring to when Mexican lefthander Fernando Valenzuela joined the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 1980s and all of Mexico seemed to come up to watch him pitch.

“We don’t know if he’ll ever get to that point, but he’s a guy people are going to want to see pitch,” said Price. “He is a special talent with a chance to be an integral part of the Cincinnati Reds. We have a great athlete with a great arm to start off with and now we go from there.”

ASKED ABOUT the toughest part of the culture shock, Chapman said, ” Definitely the food. And the language is very hard for me right now.”

The baseball is easy. But how tough must it be for a 22-year-old kid coming from abject poverty to the land of opportunity?

“I was told America was completely different than it is and I am shocked by the technology,” he said. “But I know of technology from traveling the world playing international baseball.”

Has his lifestyle changed after signing for $30.25 million? “No, not really. I go into a store and buy something when I need it. That’s about it.”

His goal is to make the team, “But if I don’t I’ll go wherever they want me and work hard to get here. And I need to learn the English language so I can be friends with everybody on the team.”

http://www.daytondailynews.com/blogs/content/shared-gen/blogs/dayton/cincinnatireds/entries/2010/02/22/chapmans_40_minutes_of_bewilde.html?cxtype=feedbot

He hasn't thrown a big league pitch yet and he's already becoming a favorite of mine. He seems like a great person. Very smart too. Bryan Price marveled at how coachable he is.

RedsManRick
02-22-2010, 05:25 PM
“I was told America was completely different than it is and I am shocked by the technology”

The sociologist in me is dying to learn more about what he was told about America...

It's great to hear about how coachable he his.

VR
02-22-2010, 05:37 PM
Other than that he was like a thoroughbred horse at auction, knowing something special was going on but not aware of the nuances.

A Reds pitcher and 'thoroughbred horse' in the same sentence is always a good thing.

BCubb2003
02-22-2010, 05:43 PM
The sociologist in me is dying to learn more about what he was told about America...

It's great to hear about how coachable he his.

The book "The Duke of Havana" about El Duque is a great read. I wonder how much has changed.

OnBaseMachine
02-22-2010, 10:09 PM
Chapman highlights
Posted by jfay February 22nd, 2010, 5:29 pm

Aroldis Chapman met the national media Monday. The Reds held a semi-formal press conference for the 21-year-old, Cuban left-hander. About 30 reporters and camera people showed. Chapman, general manager Walt Jocketty, manager Dusty Baker and pitching coach Bryan Price all spoke. Dayton pitching coach Tony Fossas was also there to interpret.

“For lack of a better word, Tony’s been Aroldis guardian since we signed him,” Jocketty said. “He’s really helped him.”

Here’s the highlights:

Jocketty:

On a timetable: “We really don’t have a timetable. I don’t think it’s good to have a timetable. You let him develop. We really don’t what he’s capable of. . . Obviously, the sooner he gets to Cincinnati, the better for us. But we are not going to rush him. We’re going to handle it the right way. As I see it, the biggest obstacles will be overcoming the cultural differences. Once he’s comfortable with that and learning the English language — the players have made him feel comfortable — once he makes progress in that direction, I think the baseball part with come very quickly. It’s very obvious he has great talent.”

On the philosophy behind the signing: “We can’t compete for the large-dollar free agents. This is still a big investment. But it was an investment we feel will pay dividends for a long period.”

On the plan for Chapman: “What we discussed is he is used to pitching to pitching year-round. I have great faith in Bryan and Dusty and the rest of our pitching coaches. We’ll develop a plan for him when we get to know him better. But we’ll probably have to keep him from doing what he wants to do all the time. He’s used to pitch and doing a lot more.”

On Chapman’s aptitude: “One of things Bryan found early on that not only is this young man talented but he’s a quick learner and picks up things. Very intelligent. Great athlete. Things come pretty easy for him.”

Baker:

On the timetable: “Like Walt said, there’s no timetable. We have to see how he is under game conditions. That’s a long way from being answered. I don’t think we know at which level he’s going to start at.”

How does he compare to other Cuban pitchers? “He hasn’t been over-pitched. He’s one of youngest pitchers to come over from Cuba. . . I think this is to his advantage.”

On the plan: “We’re not going to put in situation where he won’t succeed. I think baseball is the least of his worries. Put yourself in his situation. New language, new cultural, new food, new music. These are things we’re going to help him with it.”

How have the other pitchers reacted to him? “We’ve got put the money behind us. The money is on what he might do, not exactly what he’s done. The money keeps coming up. We’ve got to put that behind us. If you’re better than him, you’re going to pitch. If you’re not better than him, he’s going to pitch. That’s about as simple as it gets.”

On fear: “He’s not scared. If you come from Cuba and have gone through what’s gone through, fear is the last thing on his mind.”

Price:

What impresses you most? “The intellect, the baseball savvy. He came to us we understood he threw hard. What we didn’t know was the coach-ability, learn-ability, attitude.”

What about the flaws in his delivery? “I never felt the flaws were significant, No. 1. No. 2, by the time Aroldis got here, he had addressed two of areas that I had concern with from watching him in the WBC. I wasn’t 100 percent sure where the corrections were made. Aroldis acknowledged he had a big sweeping breaking ball, but he was able to tighten that up on his own. And he was able to get — from a technical term — taller on his back leg so he wasn’t collapsing his front leg.”

Could the change hurt his velocity? “When you talk about pitching mechanics, you’re talking about the best way to maximize your stuff – not the best way to throw strikes. . . I’m not a believer in you can have a bad delivery that can brings you better velocity.”

Chapman:

What is he trying to do as far as baseball? “To prepare myself the best I can, to work hard and when it’s time to pitch go out and get the job. If they feel I can make the club, fine. If not, continue to work hard.”

The biggest adjustments to the U.S.: “Definitely the food. The language is very hard right now.”

How difficult was leaving? “It was very difficult. I left my parents, my wife and daughter behind, all my friends. It was a very, very hard decision. But how do they say in Cuba: You have to brave and you have to make the move.”

Any chance he’ll see his family again? “You never know. If God prevails, some time in the next year.”

What’s the difference between U.S. baseball and Cuban baseball? “I have to be more in control. Cuban baseball is more aggressive, hit-and-run, bunting. Here, it’s more station-to-station, more power-hitting.”

Has been able to contact his family? “I’ve called them to see how they’re doing.”

What’s it like to have money? “I’m simple-minded person. When I see something at the store, I buy it. But I haven’t involved myself in that kind of stuff.”

http://cincinnati.com/blogs/reds/

Superdude
02-22-2010, 10:47 PM
The word is out that he can throw 99 to 100 miles an hour and somebody allegedly clocked him at 105 on one pitch

So now he throws 105 with a Randy Johnson slider...good luck living up this hype Aroldis!

BCubb2003
02-22-2010, 10:49 PM
So now he throws 105 with a Randy Johnson slider...good luck living up this hype Aroldis!

Maybe we should simply call him ... "The Stig."

OnBaseMachine
02-22-2010, 10:55 PM
Some more video of Chapman speaking at the press conference:

http://cincinnati.reds.mlb.com/media/video.jsp?content_id=7171745

http://cincinnati.reds.mlb.com/media/video.jsp?content_id=7171775

OnBaseMachine
02-22-2010, 11:29 PM
Reds like Chapman's head, not just his arm

GOODYEAR, Ariz. – Ever since he burst on the international scene with the Cuban national team, Aroldis Chapman has wowed scouts with his physical tools.

On Monday, the Cincinnati Reds harped more on his mental acuity.

The left-hander with the 100 mph fastball and the $30.25 million contract met the news media for the first time in spring training, revealing little in a news conference setting he appeared to find uncomfortable.

Asked how his impressions of life in the U.S. compared to his expectations, Chapman said in Spanish, "It's very different. I was expecting something else, but when I got here I realized that's not how it was.''

Asked to elaborate, he said, "I better stick with that answer.''

The Reds, on the other hand, were effusive about Chapman's intellect and baseball savvy. Pitching coach Bryan Price recalled a session in January when he was working with Chapman on pickoff moves.

"I went to give him a little pointer and he said, 'Oh no, that wasn't my good move,''' Price said. "And then all of a sudden he's got three or four different moves. It was like, 'Who's teaching who right now?'''

General manager Walt Jocketty said the Reds expect for Chapman, who turns 22 on Sunday, to start the season in the minors but not stay there long, perhaps two months. They want to give him time to adjust to his new country – the food and language have proven the biggest challenges so far – but Jocketty says they are impressed with his repertoire, especially his fastball and slider.

Veteran Ramon Hernandez, who has caught two of Chapman's three bullpen sessions of the spring, likens him to a recently retired lefty who won five Cy Young Awards.

"He throws hard and has a good slider. He's working on his changeup,'' Hernandez said. "Now he has to learn to command his fastball better. If he can do that, as hard as he throws, he's going to be a Randy Johnson-type pitcher.''

The Reds also confirmed Monday they have signed outfielder Jonny Gomes to a non-guaranteed one-year contract with a club option.

http://content.usatoday.com/communities/dailypitch/post/2010/02/reds-like-chapmans-head-not-just-his-arm/1

gm
02-22-2010, 11:41 PM
Maybe we should simply call him ... "The Stig."

The Big Cubit?

reds44
02-22-2010, 11:43 PM
The Big Cubit?
Jesus Slidersworth

RedsManRick
02-23-2010, 12:13 AM
So... keep him in the minors long enough to avoid super 2 status and the contract clause kicking in which gives him his arb money on top of his contract?

corkedbat
02-23-2010, 12:17 AM
Man. if I could have one wish as a Reds fan, it would be one season of Chapman, Bailey, Volquez, Cueto and Leake in the same rotation - pitching to the peak of their abilities. Chance of that are next to nil though, I'd say

OnBaseMachine
02-23-2010, 01:08 AM
According to sources, the A's got to $28 million over six years before conceding, but the Reds went two better, and structured the deal in an elaborate way. The straight salary is $14 million stretched over five years, with a player option for a sixth year; the bonus of $16.25 million is stretched over the same period for accounting purposes, but in reality, already has been paid. And there is a payment of $5 million if Chapman reaches arbitration after the 2012 season, and $3 million if it's after 2013.

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2010/02/22/SPVP1C5FGK.DTL

Blitz Dorsey
02-23-2010, 01:12 AM
Jesus Slidersworth

HA! Killin' me over here.

He got game.

But seriously though ... the more I read about The Cuban Missile (no crisis) ... the more I like.

Blitz Dorsey
02-23-2010, 01:13 AM
Man. if I could have one wish as a Reds fan, it would be one season of Chapman, Bailey, Volquez, Cueto and Leake in the same rotation - pitching to the peak of their abilities. Chance of that are next to nil though, I'd say

It's going to happen. Have faith, young grasshopper.

reds1869
02-23-2010, 07:14 AM
Man. if I could have one wish as a Reds fan, it would be one season of Chapman, Bailey, Volquez, Cueto and Leake in the same rotation - pitching to the peak of their abilities. Chance of that are next to nil though, I'd say

2011. Keep the faith.

medford
02-23-2010, 11:11 AM
While we're wishing for the moon (right now the Reds are Jim Loell, hopeing to wake up Neil Armstrong on that rotation), can we also wish for Bruce, Votto, Yonder, Stubbs, Fasier & Yorman to all be in the lineup hitting at their peaks?

OnBaseMachine
02-23-2010, 11:47 AM
Here's a nice article from Jerry Crasnick on Chapman. I like Jocketty's quote at the beginning.

Aroldis Chapman to set own pace
Contract, expectations won't determine arrival in majors -- his pitching will By Jerry Crasnick
ESPN.com
Archive

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Shortly after Cincinnati signed Cuban defector Aroldis Chapman to a six-year, $30.25 million contract in January, general manager Walt Jocketty began reading and hearing industry critiques of the transaction. And the baseball man in him wondered why others were so quick to detect flaws that the Reds never saw.

Even as scouts and anonymous executives gushed in unison over Chapman's live left arm and triple-digit fastball, many questioned his secondary pitches, maturity level and willingness to embrace instruction. Some said the Reds drastically overspent on a pitcher who's a long way from the majors and who might be better-suited to the bullpen than the rotation because of his inability to throw strikes consistently.

Six weeks later, with the benefit of hindsight, Jocketty is still puzzled by the disconnect.

"We keep reading about his maturity," Jocketty said. "But from everything we've seen, he's a very mature kid, and very intelligent and baseball-savvy. I wonder what people are basing [their comments] on, because it's not like the Cuban coaches are going to tell you that. Maybe it's coming from guys who couldn't get him signed."

At the moment, the Reds don't know for sure if Chapman will push for a spot on the Opening Day roster or begin this season with Triple-A Louisville, Double-A Carolina or even their high-A Lynchburg club.

According to Baseball-reference.com, more than 70 native Cubans have pitched in the majors. Will Chapman leave an enduring mark, a la Luis Tiant, Mike Cuellar, Camilo Pascual and the Hernandez brothers, or fall more on the Osvaldo Fernandez-Rene Arocha-Ariel Prieto end of the spectrum?

At 22, Chapman is a lanky, loose-limbed mystery that only time, patience and lots of innings can decipher. In the meantime, he's generating a buzz in the Cactus League as a sort of Stephen Strasburg West.

Chapman threw his third bullpen session of the spring Monday at the Reds' new Cactus League home, and a crowd of team officials, media members and assorted onlookers assembled to watch him pop catcher Ramon Hernandez's mitt with fastballs.

Shortly thereafter, Chapman sat down for a let's-get-this-out-of-the-way media scrum. Judging from the sentiments expressed by Jocketty, manager Dusty Baker and pitching coach Bryan Price, they're as interested as everybody else to determine precisely what they have.

The only certainty is that Chapman's timetable will be dictated solely by what he has to offer on the mound. The Reds will throw him into the mix with Matt Maloney, Justin Lehr, Travis Wood, Micah Owings, Mike Leake, Mike Lincoln and Kip Wells for the fifth spot in the rotation, and refrain from making a decision based on potential gate receipts or dollars invested.

"We've got to put the money behind us and realize he's one of us and make him feel as comfortable as possible," Baker said. "If you're better than him, you're gonna pitch. And if you're not better than him, he's gonna pitch. That's as simple as it gets."

It's hard to distill the emotion that Chapman must be feeling into convenient sound bites right now. Chapman defected during an international tournament in the Netherlands last July, reportedly leaving his hotel room in Rotterdam, jumping into a car and motoring toward a brand new life.

The Reds outbid the Oakland A's and several other clubs and signed Chapman to a complex deal that could increase in value depending on how quickly he arrives in the majors. The money, astounding as it is, can't obscure the inevitable withdrawal pangs: Chapman's family, girlfriend and 8-month old daughter, Ashanti Brianna, are still in Cuba, and he must be content with phone updates and the prospect of a reunion down the road.

"It was a very hard decision," Chapman said through his interpreter. "But as they say in Cuba, you have to be brave and you have to make the move."

Chapman's facial features are reminiscent of a young Dwight Gooden, and he has a smile that can light up a room. He speaks almost no English and does interviews with the help of Tony Fossas, a former big leaguer and pitching coach for Cincinnati's Class A Dayton farm club.

Chapman's natural athletic gifts transcend cultural and language barriers. Although he's not as flexible as Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez, who could lift a leg over his head and contort his body into a multitude of unrecognizable positions, he's not lacking for agility.

"I've seen him in the infield and handling a bat," Price said. "I've seen him just as a baseball player, and I'm not going to say it's abnormal. But he is some kind of loose and athletic. And he should be. He's 21 years old, for Pete's sake."

Jocketty noticed another feature that helps contribute to Chapman's nasty slider.

"Did you see the size of his hands and the length of his fingers?" Jocketty said. "My God -- they're huge."

Chapman's early interactions with teammates and the Reds' staff dispel the notion that he's strictly a thrower. In January, he worked out with Price in Arizona for a week. Each night, Price would e-mail Jocketty with another update or insight about Chapman's feel for the game and coachability.

After watching Chapman pitch in the World Baseball Classic, Price detected a couple of mechanical flaws. But Chapman has already tightened up his slow, sweeping breaking ball, and he now stands taller on his back leg to prevent his back side from collapsing. His 6-foot-4 inch frame is more imposing when he's pitching downhill rather than laterally.

"The second day or so here, we were working on his pickoff move to first base," Price said. "I went to give him a little pointer and he said, 'No, that's not my good move,' and the next thing you know, he has three or four different moves. I was like, 'Who's teaching who right now?'"

The Reds have a large and gregarious Latin contingent, with closer Francisco Cordero and young starters Edinson Volquez and Johnny Cueto leading the way. Chapman sat with the group at a table in the team's spacious clubhouse Monday and appeared comfortable on the fringes watching the others joking and carrying the conversation.

In quieter, one-on-one moments, Chapman is like a sponge. Yonder Alonso, a Reds prospect and native Cuban who played college ball at Miami, is among the teammates trying to ease Chapman's transition.

"He's always asking questions and trying to learn from everybody," Alonso said. "Things like, 'What time do I have to be here?' Or, 'What do I have to wear?' My first spring training I didn't know anything, either, but at least I could understand what people were saying. He doesn't understand anything and he's by himself here, so it's rough."

Chapman played first base as a youngster and didn't begin pitching until age 15, so the Reds place him in a different category from some of the older pitchers who fled Cuba for a shot at the majors. Unorthodox as it seemed for small-market Cincinnati to dabble in such a high-profile international free agent, the Reds view this as a long-term union that requires perspective and care.

"We have a heck of a place to start," Price said. "He's a tremendous worker and a really focused kid. Let's let him go out and pitch and see what he does, and not set the expectations on where he's going to start and what type of statistics he's going to have and 'Will he be Randy Johnson?' Just let him pitch and see where he falls."

Fair enough. The Reds have made their investment. If Aroldis Chapman is everything they expect him to be, they'll give him all the time he needs.

http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/spring2010/columns/story?columnist=crasnick_jerry&id=4938104

Ron Madden
02-24-2010, 04:26 AM
There's going to be a ton of pressure on this kid to live up to some pretty lofty expectations.

I just hope he comes through it with his mental and physical health along with his self confidence intact.