Relief pitcher Aroldis Chapman was in good spirits when he returned to the Cincinnati Reds’ clubhouse in Goodyear, Ariz., on Sunday. He sported a pair of black eyes and his face was visibly swollen; that is good and what was expected four days after getting hit in the face with a line drive when Kansas City Royals catcher Salvador Perez returned one of Chapman’s fastballs right back at the lefthander during a Cactus League game. Chapman had surgery on Thursday to insert a titanium plate over his left eye in order to stabilize the fracture area.
Chapman showed no emotional scars from the injury, which left him with fractured bones in his face and a two-month recovery period after surgery, causing him concern about a return to the mound.
“After watching the video many, many times, every time I see it I feel happy,” Chapman said. “This could have been something worse. The way I feel now, I have no pain right now.
“I put a picture on Instagram. So many people around contacted me to see how I was. I couldn’t contact them all so I put out the picture to let them know how good I felt.”
Chapman said he was not upset that he was struck by Salvador Perez’s line drive with two outs in the sixth inning during an exhibition game against the Royals on Wednesday. The hard-throwing left-hander from Cuba did mention that he would be changing his pitching style.
Tomas Vera and Aroldis Chapman address the media today in Goodyear. pic.twitter.com/BlmP15hTwF
— Reds (@Reds) March 23, 2014
Chapman, who has recorded 38 saves in each of the last two seasons and has an earned-run average of 2.40 in four seasons with the Reds, will begin a throwing and conditioning program in the next two weeks. From there it has been estimated that it will be another six weeks before he returns to the lineup.