CINCINNATI -- Reds closer Aroldis Chapman has long electrified and been effective with his 100-plus-mph fastball velocity. Another tool in his bag of tricks, a slower one, has proved almost as dazzling to watch lately.
Chapman has developed his changeup more this season, and it was highly effective Friday, when he notched his fourth save of the season during a 5-3 Reds win over the Cardinals.
After Chapman struck out first batter Matt Adams with a 102-mph fastball, his first pitch to next batter Jhonny Peralta was an 88-mph changeup that produced a swing and big miss. The next pitch was a 90-mph changeup that Peralta also whiffed on for strike two. Chapman followed with 101-mph heat and got a grounder to third base for the second out. In a three-pitch sequence to final batter Shane Robinson, Chapman's second pitch was an 89-mph changeup.
"He came in and threw a lot of changeups in Spring Training before his [facial] injury, and he continued to do so along his rehab trail," Reds manager Bryan Price said on Saturday. "And it's a good changeup; it's a really good changeup. I do believe that it's going to be a much more substantial part of his repertoire than we've ever seen before, because not only is it a good pitch, it's a controllable pitch for him, and it certainly plays well for a guy on those days when maybe he doesn't have that plus-plus-plus velocity."
Votto feels like he's getting better, stronger
CINCINNATI -- Reds first baseman Joey Votto feels like he's made "pretty good progress" with the distal quadriceps strain above his left knee in the past week-plus he's been out of action.
Yet when pressed for specifics about what exactly that meant on Saturday, Votto proved cagey.
"I'm feeling better. I'm making improvement. I'm getting stronger. I don't really want to tell you what I couldn't do before and what I can do now," said Votto in his first public comments since leaving the lineup on May 16.
Votto, like the club previously, acknowledged that he could have played through the injury if he had to. He was batting .182 in his last 16 games, which made it clear that was difficult for him to do.
"All of us play through stuff," Votto said. "It's all about what you can stand and how far you can take it, and whether or not you end up getting over the hump. In this instance, it just continually stayed with me and I couldn't get over it. Ultimately, needing to take some time off was the group decision. What I'm going through is very common for a lot of players. I just happened to not be able to get over it."
Votto said it was the organization which decided to put him on the disabled list on Wednesday, and it will be the organization's decision upon his being eligible for activation on May 31.
"I'm hopeful I'll be ready the second the DL stint is up. But they're the ones who will do the evaluating and decide when I'm ready," Votto said. "They will take my input, but I have to be able to pass a lot of tests in the training room, in the weight room and, certainly, on the field. They're the ones that will evaluate how I feel. I will give them my feedback, and we'll decide together, and they will have the final say."
Hannahan shut down after another setback
CINCINNATI -- Reds third baseman Jack Hannahan, who has not played this season after having right shoulder surgery to repair a torn labrum last October, suffered his second setback recently. Hannahan has been shut down from throwing and hitting.
"It's been a long and frustrating process," Hannahan said on Saturday.
Hannahan was diagnosed with inflammation inside a capsule of his shoulder. It bothered him to hit and after throwing.
"I would throw and [the shoulder] just wouldn't bounce back," he said. "As far as the timetable, I have no clue. Once these guys get back [from next week's road trip], I should start up a throwing program and get back out there as soon as I can."
Reds will have decisions when Latos returns to action
CINCINNATI -- With right-hander Mat Latos getting closer to activation from the disabled list, the Reds could have a decision to make, with six starting pitchers competing for five rotation spots.
Latos, who has been on the disabled list all season following right elbow surgery and left knee surgery, is scheduled to make three or four rehab starts beginning Sunday with Triple-A Louisville.
Conventional wisdom originally dictated that Alfredo Simon, who replaced Latos in the rotation, would be the odd-man out. But Simon has pitched very well to this point, with a 6-2 record and 2.31 ERA in nine starts. That only has made the final decision on who stays or goes tougher.
It also increases the importance for left-hander Tony Cingrani, who took the mound for Cincinnati against the Cardinals on Saturday, to have good performances. Cingrani came off the DL himself on May 18 after he had mild tendinitis in his throwing shoulder.
"Sometimes you try not to look that far ahead, because the way things have happened, not just for our club, but around baseball, you're tickled to death to have six guys that are capable of being a starter in the big leagues for your club," Reds manager Bryan Price said.
"But right now, it's important that [Cingrani] pitches well, there's no doubt about that."
Hamilton gets break from Reds' starting lineup
CINCINNATI -- Center fielder Billy Hamilton was rested from Saturday's Reds starting lineup vs. the Cardinals. Manager Bryan Price said it was a good time to give his speedy leadoff man a break since Cincinnati would be facing a left-handed pitcher in Jaime Garcia and the Reds would like to get outfielder Chris Heisey into the lineup.
"We're going to be facing, for the first time in a while, a rather large cluster of left-handers this week, and that does give us an opportunity every now and again to spell Billy and to get Chris in there," Price said.
"And now that Jay [Bruce] is back, there's not going to be as much freedom with the lineup to be moving outfielders around and getting guys in there on a rotation as when Jay was out."
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Mark My Word, and follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon. Manny Randhawa is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.