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.”
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.