KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Before he signed with the Cincinnati Reds in January of 2010 and started a journey that led to the All-Star Game, flame-throwing lefthander Aroldis Chapman threw some pitches in the bullpen at Fenway Park in an attempt to impress the Red Sox.
The session came on Oct. 28, 2009, a cold and rainy day. Edwin Mejia, an agent with Massachusetts roots, represented Chapman at the time and the Red Sox were thought to be one of the favorites to sign the Cuban.
Earlier that year, the Red Sox had signed Cuban shortstop Jose Iglesias to an $8.5 million deal. he and Chapman were teammates in Cuba.
Through an interpreter, Chapman said on Monday that the inclement weather kept him from showing what he could really do.
He also was still getting used to being a free agent, having come to the United States after defecting from Cuba then establishing residence in Europe.
“I didn’t know how things worked at that time. I didn’t know how free I was to do things. I was just getting here in the country and I didn’t know what to say. I wasn’t prepared,” Chapman said. “I had spent a few months in Europe and was never able to get to a baseball field to do anything. I didn’t throw for a long time before that day I got to Boston, maybe once before that day when I went to the field and threw a couple of baseballs.”
Chapman also met with the Yankees that fall. But he ended up accepting a deal from the Reds worth $25.25 over five years. He has struck out 71 in 39 1/3 innings this season and recorded 11 saves.
In retrospect, Chapman doesn’t believe the Red Sox were serious about signing him.
“I never thought they were interested in me,” Chapman said. “Maybe what happened that day, things changed. Either way, I never thought the Red Sox were able to talk to me about being with them.”