Cincinnati Reds closer Aroldis Chapman will return to the bullpen Monday for his first throwing session since being hit in the face by a line drive at the end of spring training. Chapman suffered a mild concussion and had a small plate and screws inserted under his eye to repair the gruesome injury suffered on March 19th in a game against the Kansas City Royals.
Over the weekend Chapman played catch at Great American Ball Park during team warm-ups. The team has still not set a timetable for Chapman’s return, but when questioned on Friday by a reporter Chapman said he was optimistic to return to the team and to the mound. The 26-year old, who is among the fastest throwing pitchers in the league, responded to his critics who believe he may experience mental hurtles when first returning to the mound.
“Everybody asks me that question, everybody asks the same thing and I know me, and I know that I don’t think I’m going to have any issue with that,” Chapman said according to Reds assistant trainer and interpreter Tomas Vera. “I’ve thought about the way I feel, the way I am, I don’t think this is going to affect me.”
The Reds are currently 3-8 and are in last place in the National League Central. In the absence of Chapman, the team has relied on left-hander Manny Parra and right-hander J.J Hoover, who together have one save on the season.
Chapman’s return won’t fix all of Cincinnati’s early season problems, but his reemergence means an electrifying presence in the Reds bullpen once again. Welcome back Aroldis, baseball fans have missed you.