Cincinnati Reds All-Star pitcher Aroldis Chapman had surgery to insert a titanium plate to stabilize broken bones above his left eye and nose after being hit in the face by a line drive during a spring training game.
Reds medical director Timothy Kremchek said Chapman, 26, can begin working out and throwing in 10 to 14 days and could pitch in game conditions within four to six weeks.
Chapman underwent 2 1/2 hours of surgery last night at a Phoenix hospital, the Major League Baseball team said in an e-mail release.
One of the hardest throwers in baseball, Chapman threw a 99 mile-per-hour (159 kilometer-per-hour) pitch two nights ago that was lined back up the middle by Kansas City Royals catcher Salvador Perez. It struck Chapman in the front of the head, and he immediately fell to the ground.
“It was the most frightening thing I’ve ever been a part of,” Reds outfielder Jay Bruce said after the game, according to MLB.com. “I never got close enough to see it. The way it was explained, as hard as he throws and as hard as that ball was hit off of the bat, we’re hoping for the best.”
Chapman’s injury comes three months after baseball approved for pitchers an optional padded hat, which is a half-inch thicker in the front and a full inch thicker around the temples. In September 2012, pitcher Brandon McCarthy fractured his skull and had surgery on a brain contusion after being hit with a line drive, and Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Alex Cobb was hospitalized last season after being hit on a similar play.
A two-time All-Star closer, Chapman had 38 saves last year with a 2.54 earned-run average and 112 strikeouts. In four MLB seasons, the Cuban native has a 2.40 ERA and is averaging 14.7 strikeouts per nine innings.