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Checking in on Wakefield and Chapman

11.10.09 at 11:51 am ET
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CHICAGO — Executives are in meetings all morning here at the O’Hare International Airport Hilton, leaving me in a desolate work room with just my computer and a free 10 oz Diet Pepsi that would have cost me $4 upstairs (no lie).

The schedule will allow for access to all the general managers starting at 4:30 p.m. EST, which will surely spawn a flurry of Tweets and the like starting about 5:30 p.m.

One thing I forgot to pass on Monday was that in my conversation with Tim Wakefield, he passed along what a difference the surgery on his back had meant. He said that the limp which he had been saddled with for the past few months was instantly gone once he could get out of his hospital bed.

“I feel great” Wakefield said. “I’m getting more strength in my calf and my hamstring. As a matter of fact, the doctor came in soon after surgery and I was doing laps around the nurses station with my wife with my IV without limping. It was that instantaneously.

“Dr. (Lawrence) Borges did a phenomenal job. He even said to me that he was surprised that I was pitching because the fragment they took out of my back was pretty big.”

I did run into one National League executive who was toying with the idea of watching Cuban free agent pitcher Aroldis Chapman in the Dominican Republic. (He is reportedly in Costa Rica right now. Ed. Note: Chapman’s representatives clarified that the pitcher is currently in the United States, and has no plans to pitch in the Dominican.) The executive reiterated that while the talent for Chapman was off the charts (95-102 mph fastball), there was some growing concern regarding his make-up, which is not the norm for pitchers coming over from Cuba.

If you remember, one of the selling points for Jose Contreras when the Yankees and Red Sox were going toe-to-toe for the pitcher’s services was that he had pitched in the most pressure-packed of environments under the watchful eye of Fidel Castro and the Cuban government.

The 21-year-old Chapman, who will make a boatload of money from somebody (although maybe not as much as he is asking for), is perceived as somewhat immature, a notion that wasn’t displaced after a drama-filled World Baseball Classic outing. Unlike Contreras, there are conflicting reports whether the lefty flamethrower is even ready to begin his career in the big leagues.

All the concerns aside, with his upside, and the dearth of free agent pitching, Chapman figures to be one of the offseason’s biggest prizes and elicit some more good lobby talk as the meetings march along.

Be back later once access picks up …

Read More: aroldis chapman, Hot Stove, jose contreras, Tim Wakefield
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