PEORIA, Ariz. (AP) - Aroldis Chapman said all he needs is for the season to start.
The Cincinnati Reds starter had his best outing of the spring on Saturday as the Cincinnati Reds beat the San Diego Padres 6-0 in a game between split squads.
Chapman struck out five batters and limited the Padres to four hits in five scoreless innings. The left-hander, who walked 41 batters in 50 innings last season, issued one free pitch during a 78-pitch effort.
Chapman attributed Saturday's success to taking less time in between pitches, a suggestion both his coaches and teammates made.
"I've been working on the command of my pitches and controlling the location," Chapman said through a translator. "One of things I did today was working faster. I've been listening to my teammates and coaches talking about taking less time between pitches and it was working today."
The Padres didn't have much of a chance against Chapman. He was throwing in the mid 90-mph range from the outset and touched 98 mph on the radar gun several times. Chapman went 4-1 with a 3.60 ERA in 54 games for the Reds last season.
"It looked like it had an extra gear on it," Padres shortstop Jason Bartlett said.
Padres manager Bud Black likes how Chapman appears to have cleaned up his delivery.
Chapman is in the mix for a spot in Cincinnati's rotation, although he could be used out of the bullpen. The Reds are already without left-hander Bill Bray (groin strain) and on Saturday learned they will be without closer Ryan Madson, who will soon undergo season-ending reconstructive elbow surgery. Chapman was mentioned as a possible replacement for Bray.
"It looks as though his delivery is smoothed out a little bit, especially his finish," Black said. "He appears to be a little bit more compact, not as spread out. He doesn't look to be flailing like he did at times last year.
"He was effectively wild in and around the zone."
Padres starting pitcher Clayton Richard wasn't as effective as Chapman. Richard allowed five runs - three earned - and seven hits in 4 2-3 innings. But Black and Richard, who had arthroscopic surgery on his left shoulder on July 29, saw more positive signs after an 84-pitch effort.
"I felt good," Richard said. "I wasn't as sharp as I'd like to be, but you'll have days like that. It's a natural progression. You want to establish your fastball first and then mix in your offspeed and it's kind of where I'm at now. I'm trying to get a little more consistent with my pitches in the zone and get early outs. For the most part I was able to command the fastball."
Reds outfielder Jay Bruce and infielder Miguel Cairo each went 2 for 3. Cairo had an RBI. Drew Stubbs had a two-run single and infielder Paul Janish also went 2 for 3 with a run and an RBI.
San Diego outfielder Mark Kotsay had two singles and reliever Huston Street pitched a scoreless inning.
Padres reliever Andrew Cashner allowed his first run in eight innings this spring.
Catcher Nick Hundley, who was bothered by a sore right side, returned to the lineup for the first time since March 14 and caught six innings. Hundley, who signed a three-year, $9 million contract on Tuesday, went 0 for 3 but said he is healthy.