Aroldis Chapman takes in Cuban Caribbean Series game before Spring Training starts
Aroldis Chapman takes in Cuban Caribbean Series game
There was a familiar face -- and arm -- in the stands during Wednesday night's Caribbean Series game between Cuba and Puerto Rico at Hiram Bithorn Stadium in San Juan.
Reds closer Aroldis Chapman, a former star in Serie Nacional, Cuba's top league, and a longtime member of the island's national team, joined a few buddies to watch a few old friends play baseball.
"I was nearby and I wanted to see the Cuban team. It's been years since I had seen them," said Chapman, who sat a few rows behind Cuba's dugout. "I'm really happy to be here. That was the team that I played with and that brings back a lot of good memories of my days on the national team. I'm watching different guys that I used to play with."
Chapman made his pro debut with Holguin in Cuba in 2005 and later starred for the island's team in the World Junior Championships, Pan American Games, Baseball World Cup and the 2009 World Baseball Classic.
The left-hander later defected and signed a six-year, $30.25 million deal with the Reds in January 2010. He lit up the radar gun with a 105 mph fastball in September of that year and has gone on to save 113 games with 430 strikeouts in 252 2/3 innings with Cincinnati. He racked up 36 saves and 106 strikeouts in 54 innings for the Reds last season.
"I've been working hard and training," Chapman said. "There are only a few days left before I go to Spring Training. I'm ready to get it started in the United States."