Price likes Chapman
Posted by jfay January 21st, 2010, 6:16 pm

Reds pitching coach Bryan Price really likes Aroldis Chapman, and it has nothing to do with Chapman’s 100 mph fastball.

“He’s a neat kid,” Price said. “He smiles easily. He’s great to be around.”

Chapman, the 21-year-old Cuban left-hander, spent the week at the Reds’ new complex in Goodyear, Ariz.

He threw a bit – catch everyday and one bullpen session – but that wasn’t the main priority.

“We wanted to get him acclimated to the way we do things,” Price said, “get familiar with the layout of the facility and meet with some of the people he’ll be working with.”

The adjustment is a huge one for the Chapman. He speaks no English. Price speaks Spanish so that wasn’t a barrier for the two.

“It’s really important that he gets assimilated,” Price said. “It’s different. Professional baseball takes an adjustment for anyone, whether it’s a college kid or a high school kid. But it’s a greater adjustment for someone from another country.”

Chapman has been put on the Reds strength and conditioning program. One of the difficult things will be holding him back.

“You’ve got to temper it a little,” Price said. “He’s champing at the bit. Baseball is a year-round sport in Cuba. He’s ready to go. But it’s a seasonal sport here.”

Price has the same message for all the pitchers: Come in shape, but not Opening Day shape as far as throwing.

“We don’t want guys in midseason form on Feb. 18 when the season doesn’t start until April 4 and can go into October if you’re successful,” Price said.

Only a handful of players are training this early. Justin Lehr, Bill Bray and Daryl Thompson were there this week.

Lehr lives nearby. Bray is rehabbing from April 16 elbow surgery; Thompson is rehabbing from Aug. 25 shoulder surgery.

Both Bray and Thompson are on throwing programs, although neither is scheduled to be on the regular schedule when spring training opens.

Chapman will return to Florida today.

Price is glad he got a head start with his prized pupil.

“I think it will be a great benefit,” Price said. “It would have been difficult if he had come on Feb. 18. He wouldn’t have known where anything is. This way he got used to being in this part of the country.”