GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- One of the few mysteries of Reds camp has been what the club will do with left-handed pitcher Aroldis Chapman to open the season.
There appear to be three choices: Chapman can be the fifth starter in the big league rotation, he can be a reliever in the Reds' bullpen or he can be a starter at Triple-A Louisville. No decision has been made, yet.
"We're close," Reds manager Dusty Baker said on Thursday afternoon. "You'll be notified when we make our decision on what's happening. Right now, we don't know. The last time, it was decided kind of for us [in 2010], you know what I mean?"
The last time the Reds were on the fence like this with Chapman was two springs ago. But he suffered a back injury late in camp and wound up starting the season as a starter at Louisville.
The Reds have split-squad games on Saturday and have both Chapman and the other fifth starter candidate, Homer Bailey, making starts. Chapman will face the Padres in Peoria, while Bailey will get the Giants in Goodyear.
In three big league exhibition games, including two starts, Chapman has a 2.57 ERA with one walk and seven strikeouts in seven innings. While pitching in a Minor League game on Monday, he gave up two runs and four hits over 2 1/3 innings, with two walks and four strikeouts.
Madson will not pitch on Friday
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- It appears that Reds closer Ryan Madson has suffered a setback as he tries to return from an elbow injury.
Madson will not pitch in a Minor League game on Friday as scheduled, according to Reds manager Dusty Baker. He would not reveal the nature of the setback.
"I don't have any answers for you, right now," Baker said after the Reds' 6-2 win over the Rangers on Thursday night.
Madson, who was signed to a one-year, $8.5 million contract as a free agent in January, has missed every game this spring because of right elbow irritation. The injury was not considered serious.
In recent days, Madson has made progress with side bullpen sessions. On Tuesday, he threw 20 pitches over one inning in a simulated game against Reds hitters without issue.
If Madson is not able to open the season with the club, the Reds could turn to left-hander Sean Marshall to close games.
Votto, Phillips get extra day off
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Most of the Reds re-convened on Thursday afternoon at the team complex following Wednesday's lone scheduled off-day. Two regulars, first baseman Joey Votto and second baseman Brandon Phillips, were given an extra day off. Neither player was present at the complex.
"I give them all a day to pick when you'd rather not be here, a mental day," said Reds manager Dusty Baker, who noted that other regulars would be afforded similar breaks in the coming days.
With Votto away, Juan Francisco -- normally a third baseman -- was given a look at first base. Wilson Valdez started at second base.
Cincinnati has had most of its players in camp since it opened on Feb. 19, but several were early arrivals.
"That's a long time before you get a day off," said Baker, who spent his time off fishing. "Usually, we have it in the middle of the month. This is probably one of the latest [times] I've had a day off. The good thing is, it's like a day and a half off because of the night game [on Thursday]. It's wonderful."