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NL Central Notes: Chapman, Francis, Punto, Heredia

Let's continue our tour of the divisions with news from the NL Central...

  • "The Reds’ handling of Aroldis Chapman is beginning to resemble Joba Chamberlain 2.0," writes Yahoo Sports' Jeff Passan.  Cincinnati is leaning towards using Chapman as a reliever this season but Passan argues that a pitcher with Chapman's potential should be given the chance to start and not worry about being shuttled between the rotation and the bullpen.  Another note from the piece is that Chapman's velocity is down to the 92-95 mph range this spring, but Chapman has been pleased with his improved command and his new pitch, a splitter.
  • Like Chapman, Jeff Francis has pitched well this spring but may not find a spot in the Reds rotation, prompting ESPN's Jerry Crasnick (via Twitter) to consider Francis an "affordable alternative for teams in the John Lannan hunt."  Francis signed a minor league deal with the Reds that contains an opt-out clause for March 28 that he could exercise if he doesn't think he'll find a job in Cincinnati.  (In regards to Lannan, he could be off the trade market altogether given Chien-Ming Wang's hamstring injury today.)
  • Nick Punto told reporters (including Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch) that his top two offseason options were the Cardinals and Red Sox, but the Cards never made him a contract offer.
  • Astros minor leaguer Angel Heredia has been suspended for 50 games following a positive test for performance-enhancing drugs, reports The Associated Press.  Heredia, a right-handed pitcher, played for Houston's Dominican Summer League team.








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