TAMPA, Fla. — Aroldis Chapman gave a preview of coming attractions. Due out in the Bronx May 9.
The closer made his first appearance as a Yankee on Thursday afternoon in a split-squad game against the Blue Jays at Steinbrenner Field, and he was in far from midseason form.
Struggling with his command, hardly unusual for any pitcher early in spring training, Chapman hit two batters, walked two and allowed one run in two-thirds of an inning. He threw nine strikes in 26 pitches, with his fastball peaking at 99 mph.
“Power guys, it usually takes them a while to get going,’’ pitching coach Larry Rothschild said, “so I don’t think there’s really too much there to be concerned about.”
The 28-year-old lefthander reached 103 mph with the Reds. “Speed is something I don’t worry about during spring training,” he said through his translator. “I like to work on making good pitches, so it’s something I don’t pay attention to.
“I didn’t have my control today, but I feel great physically. Just because I didn’t have my control doesn’t mean that I need to worry about that. This is spring training. All I need to focus on is to keep doing my daily work and I should be fine.”
Chapman will miss the first 30 games of the regular season because of an MLB suspension for an alleged domestic-violence incident last October. He can participate in full spring training activities.
Preceding Chapman to the mound were Andrew Miller and Dellin Betances, and the trio will comprise the back end of what is expected to be one of the sport’s best bullpens, if not the best.
“They’re not going to give it up much,” Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said before the game.
After starter Nathan Eovaldi impressed with two perfect innings, Miller allowed two runs and four hits in the third. Betances came on in the fourth and struck out one in a perfect inning. It was the second appearance of spring training for both relievers.
Chapman started the fifth inning by striking out former Met Darrell Ceciliani with an 85-mph breaking pitch. Then his command abandoned him. He hit Ryan Goins with a 2-and-0 fastball and walked Kevin Pillar. After Josh Donaldson popped out, Chapman hit Jose Bautista with a slider and walked Troy Tulo witzki, his final batter, to force in a run.
“Stuff’s there, obviously,” said bench coach Rob Thomson, who managed the game while Joe Girardi was in Sarasota for a 4-4 tie with the Orioles. “I don’t think we’ll worry about him right now. The stuff was good.”
Bautista shrugged off being hit by what he called “a backdoor slider.’’
“It’s his first outing, too,” Bautista said. “He’s all over the place, which is normal for a pitcher. They’re excited, it’s the first time. He had a long offseason. He’s probably feeling great. So he’s trying to harness all his strength and velocity right now.”