Reds closer posts pictures after hit in face

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Posted on March 21, 2014 at 4:31 PM

Updated Friday, Mar 21 at 4:31 PM

Reds' closer Aroldis Chapman posted two pictures on his Instagram account of himself in the hospital.

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Reds' Chapman `lucky' to have only broken bone

GOODYEAR, Ariz. (AP) -- Cincinnati Reds closer Aroldis Chapman was undergoing surgery Thursday to repair a broken bone above his left eye but has no other serious injuries after being hit in the face by a line drive in a spring training game.

Team medical director Dr. Timothy Kremchek said Chapman could begin throwing off a mound in six to eight weeks, a timetable that could get him back in games in late May. The left-hander with a fastball that has reached 105 mph could start exercising and throwing on flat ground in a couple of weeks, Kremchek said.

The doctor called Chapman "a very lucky guy."

Kremchek said a metal plate will be inserted in the bone above Chapman's left eyebrow, with perhaps a bone graft as well, and will remain there permanently. Chapman has a very mild concussion but no other brain injury and no injury to his eye, Kremchek said.

"He's feeling better and he has some pain management. We're optimistic that he is going to be on the mend," Reds manager Bryan Price said after meeting with players Thursday morning at the team's spring training facility. "Obviously, we'll stay in touch. We will make sure we follow the process as we continue to get familiar with the injury itself. We will let him know how much support he has and that we care about him. Hopefully, we will see him here very soon."

Catcher Brayan Pena, a fellow Cuban and Chapman's close friend, was one of several Reds players who visited the injured pitcher Wednesday night and spoke to him on the phone Thursday morning.

"He was talking to me and we joked a lot," Pena said. "He just wanted to make sure for me to tell everybody that he appreciate so much the fans' prayers, especially our teammates, our coaching staff, everybody around, how much support and how much love he received and got from all of us."

Pena said Chapman was very happy when they spoke Thursday, "talking and joking. He was talking a lot about some Cuban jokes and that's good because that means his memory is still working pretty good."

The frightening incident, widely available on video via the Internet, occurred in the sixth inning of Wednesday night game at Kansas City's spring training facility in Surprise, Ariz., when the Royals' Salvador Perez lined Chapman's 99 mph fastball into the pitcher's face. Chapman was knocked backward to the ground, then rolled on his face, kicking in pain.

Pena rushed to the mound.

"Honestly when I saw it I wanted to cry," Pena said. "That was my first feeling because it was very scary. It was very scary because I saw the line drive going straight for his face, and then I saw him bleeding and kicking and moving around the way he was."

Pena said Chapman "wasn't even talking. He was just like moaning and making sounds and then when I got there I panicked because I didn't know what else to do. Then the medical staff guys got there, and those guys were great."

Chapman was taken off the field in a stretcher as the crowd fell into an eerie silence and the game was called off.

The pitcher was taken to a nearby hospital, then transferred to Banner Good Samaritan Medical Center in Phoenix. Kremchek said he expected Chapman to remain hospitalized for a couple of days, perhaps being released on Saturday.

The ball hit Chapman in one of the most protected areas of the skull, the doctor said.

"If you get hit in the side of the head, that could be disastrous," Kremchek said. "Where Aroldis got hit, you don't want to say he got hit in a good spot because he's undergoing surgery, but it could have been a lot worse, a lot more injuries, a lot more permanent. He's very lucky."

The 26-year-old Chapman has a fastball that regularly tops 100 mph. The two-time All-Star defected from Cuba in 2009 and made the Reds club in his first season of 2010. He had 38 saves each of the past two seasons, with 122 strikeouts in 71 2-3 innings in 2012 and 112 strikeouts in 63 2-3- innings in 2013.

Price, a former pitcher, said pitchers are in a dangerous situation, "regardless of how hard you throw."

"It's hard to defend yourself from 53, 54 feet," the manager said. "And everyone finishes their pitches differently. Everyone is not in a perfect fielding position and even if you are there is no guarantee that you can protect yourself when a ball's hit that hard."

Major League Baseball approved a protective cap for pitchers this winter following several terrifying scenes similar to this one in the last few years. The hats were available for testing during spring training on a voluntary basis but most have rejected them. Besides, the hats would offer no protection to the face, where Chapman was hit.

Chapman particularly wanted to thank the Royals organization for its support and offer assurance to Perez that it is just something that happens in baseball and was not his fault.

Pena said he also felt some responsibility.

"I kind of blame myself a little bit because I could have called slider or I should have called changeup," Pena said. "That's your thought process. Everything goes through your mind and you're looking for answers. ... You kind of put yourself in that guilt feeling."

But Chapman, Pena said, told him "`You know, it's not your fault. I should have thrown slower.' I'm the one feeling very bad about it and he's the one that's cheering me up. He's the one in the hospital."

© 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Reds closer Chapman hit in face by line drive

SURPRISE, Ariz. (AP) -- Cincinnati Reds closer Aroldis Chapman broke bones above his left eye and nose when he was hit by a line drive Wednesday night, the latest frightening injury to a pitcher struck in the head by a batted ball.

Chapman was undergoing further testing at Banner Good Samaritan Medical Center, where he was set to spend the night for observation, according to a statement from the Reds.

First-year manager Bryan Price said Chapman was conscious and talking as he was taken off the field during Cincinnati's spring training game against the Kansas City Royals.

The exhibition was called after an 8-minute delay with Kansas City leading 6-3.

"Not good," Price said. "He left the field on a stretcher, took a line drive just above his left eye is what it looks like - a contusion, a laceration, and certainly needs to be taken to the hospital and checked. We've got Tomas Vera, an assistant trainer, is going to be with him. And then we'll get our updates from there."

The hard-throwing left-hander was struck by Salvador Perez's liner with two outs in the sixth inning - the pitch was clocked at 99 mph. Chapman crumbled to the ground, face down, his legs flailing. The ball caromed into the third base dugout. Medical personnel, including Royals Dr. Vincent Key, rushed onto the field. Blood could be seen on the mound.

Perez put his hands on his helmet before reaching first base. He immediately went to the mound where players from both teams huddled as the 26-year-old Cuban reliever was being attended to in an eerily silent stadium. An ambulance's siren could be heard in the background while Chapman was loaded onto the stretcher.

"It was an absolute bullet that Sal hit," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "It's just a real sickening feeling for everybody."

Players from both teams kneeled, some bowing their heads and crossing themselves in prayer.

Chapman was taken to Banner Del E. Webb Medical Center in Sun City. He was then transferred to Banner Good Samaritan Medical Center.

Perez appeared to be in tears as he left the field, and first baseman Eric Hosmer hugged him. Perez quickly left the clubhouse without speaking to reporters. Hosmer hit a line drive off the head of Tampa Bay's Alex Cobb last June. Cobb sustained a concussion.

Playing right field, Reds teammate Jay Bruce heard the ball hit Chapman.

"It was one of the more frightening and non-fun moments I've been a part of on the baseball field," he said.

After Chapman was driven off to the waiting ambulance, Price and Yost met with the umpires.

"It was really a mutual agreement," crew chief Chris Guccione said. "Players were rattled. The staff was rattled. The umpires were rattled. We figured it was best, along with both teams in agreement, that the game should end."

Yost said neither he nor his players wanted to keep playing. Price felt the same way.

"You can't find it in your heart to go out there and play," he said.

Oakland pitcher Brandon McCarthy, who had emergency surgery after he was struck in the head by a line drive in September 2012, urged caution in a post on Twitter.

"all reporting at this point means zilch, until he gets a scan," he said in a tweet.

Chapman, who throws a 100 mph fastball, had walked four Royals in the inning before being injured.

The two-time All-Star had 38 saves for the Reds last season.

When reporters walked into the Royals clubhouse, third baseman Mike Moustakas asked a team official to request that they leave.

"No one wants to talk," Moustakas said.

In January, Major League Baseball approved a protective cap for pitchers following several terrifying scenes similar to this one in the last few years, including Toronto's J.A. Happ, who sustained a skull fracture.

The heavier and bigger hats were available for testing during spring training on a voluntary basis, but the cap apparently would not have helped Chapman in this case.

"I know this isn't uncommon as we would like it to be, but it was frightening," Price said. "Certainly frightening."

© 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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