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Off the field, Chapman also a bigger force

CINCINNATI -- Everybody knows when Reds closer Aroldis Chapman is about to go to work. Usually when the Reds have a close lead to seal shut in the ninth inning, especially at Great American Ball Park, the crowd gets to its feet and waits.

Then the moment comes when Chapman emerges through the bullpen door, pauses and then jogs towards the mound, where the process to get the final three outs, often with triple-digit fastball velocity, commences.

When it comes to working in the community, Chapman takes a more nuanced approach. Unlike when he pitches, few see what he does and he prefers the lack of fanfare. But whether it's in his native Cuba, adopted hometown of Miami or the relatively small Latin population in Cincinnati, Chapman likes to help others when he can.

"I've done it, because it's something that comes from the inside," Chapman said via translator Tomas Vera. "It makes me feel really happy and proud that I can help a lot of people."

Chapman defected from Cuba in 2009 while representing his country in an international tournament. By January 2010 as a prized free agent, he signed a six-year, $30.25 million contract with the Reds and has since become one of the Major Leagues' premier closers.

While Chapman isn't working directly with the Reds Community Fund or other club-related organized outreach, the 25-year-old left-hander said he's done his giving informally.

Chapman has donated baseball equipment to schools and youth baseball teams in Miami. When other Cuban players have defected and arrived, he's been able to provide a special kind of welcome.

"Some of the Cuban athletes that have come to this country don't have anything yet so I will help them as well," Chapman said.

As for younger athletes still in Cuba, Chapman has found ways to assist them as well. Restrictions between the U.S. and Cuba have lessened in recent years and made it more possible to send baseball equipment. Chapman can't see for himself, however, how his efforts have worked.

"I don't have too much information on how they're doing over there," Chapman said. "But when they get a hold of me and ask for shoes, gloves and things like that, I do my best to get it to them, and I find a way to get it over there."

Even non-athletes from Cuba have been found they have a friend in Chapman. On occasion, he has gone to see different Cuban musicians perform when they tour the U.S. for cultural programs. Two particular bands -- Los Cuatro and Gente De Zona -- drew Chapman's eye, because he noticed they were playing with old instruments.

Before the bands went home, they had been given brand-new instruments courtesy of Chapman.

"I believe each of us know where we come from," Chapman said. "Now that I have the possibility and have achieved what I have and gotten to this point with the tools to help, I think I should be able to help those achieve this type of goal."

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for Read his blog, Mark My Word, and follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon.

Cincinnati Reds, Aroldis Chapman