Cincinnati Reds closer Aroldis Chapman underwent 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.
The frightening incident occurred in the sixth inning of Wednesday night’s 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.
Reds’ catcher Brayan 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.”
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.”
Clearing the bases
Yankees CF Jacoby Ellsbury was sent for an MRI on his ailing right calf. Ellsbury hasn’t played since March 14. He was scratched from Sunday’s game against Atlanta because of right calf tightness…. Detroit SS Jose Iglesias will be out four to six months because of stress fractures in both legs…. Atlanta RHP Brandon Beachy will have ligament-replacement surgery in his right elbow for the second time and is expected to miss the entire season.