All-Star relief pitcher Aroldis Chapman of the Cincinnati Reds is expected to make a full recovery and pitch again despite the injuries he suffered Wednesday night when he was hit square in the face by batted ball.
“Chapman will have a plate inserted into his head, but should ‘absolutely’ be able to pitch again this season, Reds medical director Dr. Tim Kremchek said on Thursday morning. ‘He has a very mild concussion, no other brain injury, his eye’s fine,’ Kremchek said. ‘He’s a very lucky guy.’
“Kremchek said the plate will be permanent, and Chapman could be out of the hospital by Saturday.”
“Recovery is expected to take roughly two months, but Kremchek cautioned that Chapman would likely not be able to begin pitching immediately after that six-to-eight week timetable.”
There’s video of what happened here, but we should caution those who are squeamish about such things that they may find it tough to watch. Chapman was pitching in the sixth inning of an exhibition game against the Kansas City Royals at Surprise Stadium in Surprise, Ariz., when Royals catcher Salvador Perez hit the ball straight back toward the pitcher’s mound. It was flying so fast that Chapman had no chance to get out of the way.
Chapman, 26, is from Cuba. This is his fifth season in the big leagues. He was an All-Star in both 2012 and 2013.
What happened to him Wednesday will remind older fans of Herb Score, an up-and-coming pitcher with the Cleveland Indians who was hit in the face by a batted ball in 1957. As the Baseball Hall of Fame writes, Score’s playing career never recovered:
“He didn’t pitch again until 1958, then injured his arm. He insisted that his eye was fine, but it didn’t matter. His arm never came back to form, and he retired in 1962, just shy of his 29th birthday. Roughly two-thirds of his career wins and strikeouts occurred before his injury — that is, before he turned 24. Multiply his early innings pitched by eight to compare his statistics to the average Hall of Fame pitcher’s. Even without estimating improved numbers during his prime, he would top 300 wins and 4,200 strikeouts.
“Score, however, made the best of his situation and went on to enjoy a long tenure as an Indians broadcaster. But for fans of the game, it is easy to wonder how great he would have been.”
SI.com reports, though, that “despite the injury, Reds manager Bryan Price and catcher Brayan Pena, who was behind the plate when Chapman was injured, said that Chapman was in good spirits the morning after.”