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Yanks, Mets look at Cuban phenom pitcher Chapman

Aroldis Chapman defected from Cuba in July 2009

Aroldis Chapman defected from Cuba in July 2009 during a tournament in the Netherlands. Separated from his parents, sisters, girlfriend and infant daughter, the 21-year-old left-hander with a 100 mph fastball embarked for a career in the major leagues. (November 12, 2009) Photo Credit: AP

The Yankees and Mets were among the teams with representatives in Houston Tuesday to watch 21-year-old lefty phenom Aroldis Chapman show his stuff, the continuation of an eventful year for the pitcher who defected from Cuba in August and was declared a free agent in September.

Both New York teams, as well as the Red Sox, met with Chapman in October and the bidding for the hard-throwing lefthander's services very well could turn into yet another Yankees/Red Sox battle.

But the two rivals will have plenty of competition as, according to mlb.com, about 50 scouts were in attendance for the session, which was closed to the media.

The Red Sox are the only team to reportedly have made an offer, though that was made to his previous agent, Edwin Mejia, whom Chapman fired in November. Chapman then signed on with Alan and Randy Hendricks of Hendricks Sports Management. Mejia's Athletes Premiere International filed suit against Hendricks Sports Management Tuesday for interfering with its representation of Chapman.

But yesterday's focus was on the 21-year-old whose fastball at one point was clocked at 102 mph during the World Baseball Classic. Reports said Chapman's fastball topped out at 96 mph Tuesday, but Randy Hendricks told mlb.com the pitcher wasn't going full bore.

"He didn't throw all out, which we told the teams he would not do," Hendricks said. "I think it was important that he demonstrated that he's ready, he's in shape, that he can throw free and easy, which is what he did. A lot of life on his pitches. He threw real well. I think it was sufficient to let everybody know he's ready for prime time."

Whether Chapman is ready for prime time this season is in question, which Hendricks acknowledged.

Yankees GM Brian Cashman said at last week's winter meetings that Chapman would "not be a guy we're looking at in 2010 in our rotation."

"We're going to meet with some teams one-on-one for them to get to know him better," Hendricks said, according to mlb.com. "After that, we'll start moving toward trying to make a deal with somebody."

Notes & quotes: The Yankees will hold their annual food drive Thursday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Gate 2 (the corner of 164th Street and Jerome Ave.). Any fan bringing 30 pounds of non-perishable food will receive a voucher good for two grandstand or bleachers tickets to one of 20 designated games.

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