Aroldis Chapman had successful facial surgery Thursday to repair a broken bone above his left eye. The procedure followed a horrific injury late Wednesday night when the Cincinnati Reds closer was struck in the face with a line drive during an exhibition game against the Kansas City Royals. Other than the broken bone Chapman suffered a mild concussion, but no other brain injury or injury to his eye, says team medical director Dr. Timothy Kremchek.
The doctors have told Chapman that he can begin throwing off of the mound in six to eight weeks and a reasonable time to expect his season debut would be sometime late May. If his recovery goes well, the left-hander could expect to begin throwing off of flat ground in a few weeks.
All signs point to the 26-year old making full recovery and team doctors acknowledge how fortunate Chapman was to not endure a career-ending injury.
“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.”
Chapman was taken off the field on a stretcher following the freighting incident. Reds manager Bryan Price, a former pitcher, said that any pitcher is exposed to the dangers of the baseball coming back to the mound, “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.”
For now, Chapman will begin his recovery process in hopes of joining the Reds in late spring. The two-time All-Star is looking to return from a dominant 2013 campaign where he had 112 strikeouts in 63 2-3- innings of work.
The “Cuban Missile” posted a photograph on his Instagram page showing the graphic extent of his surgery (I counted 27 staples, but that’s only the ones visible). He also left a message for his supporters, “My people, all is well,” he wrote in Spanish on the site. “I’m here waiting to be discharged.”