GOODYEAR, Ariz. (TheBlaze/AP) — You wouldn’t think to call Cincinnati Reds closer Aroldis Chapman “lucky” if you saw the line drive he took to the face Wednesday. Doctors say his injuries could have been much worse, even though he needed a permanent plate in his head as a result.
Chapman underwent surgery to repair one broken bone above his left eye but has no other serious injuries. Team doctor Tim Krenchek called Chapman “a very lucky guy.”
Krenchek said a metal plate will be inserted in the bone and will remain there permanently. He says Chapman has a very mild concussion but no other brain injury and no injury to his eye.
“Honestly when I saw it I wanted to cry,” catcher Brayan Pena told ESPN. “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.”
Watch the harrowing moment when Kansas City’s Salvador Perez lined Chapman’s 99 mph fastball into the pitcher’s face during the spring training game:
This angle shows the reaction of Pena and Perez directly afterward:
Chapman collapsed to the ground, moaning in pain and kicking his feet, then was taken off the field by stretcher.
Pena was with Chapman Thursday morning and said the pitcher was in good spirits.
According to ESPN, Chapman might be back on the field practicing in a few weeks. The sports station also noted that Major League Baseball approved a protective cap for pitchers’ voluntary use but most on the field have not been chosen to test it out. This hat would not have protected Chapman where he was hit.