Cincinnati Reds Aroldis Chapman pitches off mound, wows observers
After a horrific scene just three-and-a-half weeks ago, Cincinnati Reds (and really all baseball fans) got a bit of good news today when Aroldis Chapman, the hard-throwing lefty closer for the Reds, threw off the mound for the first time. Chapman was struck in the face by a line drive off the bat of Kansas City Royals slugger Salvador Perez, breaking facial bones throughout his nose and eye region. Mark Sheldon of MLB.com reports that Chapman threw 25-pitches in total to rave reviews:
“He threw the ball outstanding,” [Reds manager Bryan] Price said. “He threw all of his pitches, including his slider. He was sharp, extremely enthusiastic and happy to be out there as we all were. It was exciting.”
“It was an obvious and essential step to the next thing, which will be live batting practice and game situations,” Price said. “I think facing batters will be the biggest hurdle for him initially, but we haven’t seen any reason to feel like he’s anything other than optimistic about getting back on the mound and facing hitters.”
Through an interpreter, the Cuban fireballer noted two days ago that he hasn’t felt any kind of symptoms or setbacks since they took his stitches out a week ago.
According to Harry Pavlidis, Dan Rozenson and Pitch Info via CBS Eye on Baseball, Chapman threw 318 pitches over 100 MPH in 2013, more than double his closest rival. The Reds need him back, as they are off to a slow start at 4-8 in the National League Central cellar, including a recent loss on walk-off Grand Slam given up to the Mets without Chapman to nail it down.
– David Whitlock