On Sunday, Aroldis Chapman, famed for his blistering fastball which once registered the fastest speed in Major League history, showed baseball fans he is back from a frightening injury that occurred in spring training. Chapman was struck above his eye by a line drive on March 19, but on Sunday against the Colorado Rockies the Cincinnati Reds’ flamethrower fired a 100 mph strike with his first pitch, then warmed up to throwing 102 mph as he struck out the side in the ninth to earn his first save of the year in his first appearance of the season. Chapman threw 21 pitches, 15 of them over 100 mph. The Reds won, 4-1.
After the game, Chapman, 26, said through a translator, “I am really happy to get out there for the first time. They are a good team but I was mentally prepared to face them. Facing those type of hitters make you feel better, than if you just break the ice.”
Chapman’s arrival on the mound triggered a standing ovation from the crowd of 33,143 fans. He said later, “I was excited to get back but I was even more excited when I heard the fans.” said the 26-year-old Cuban.
Although Chapman had two rough outings at the Reds’ affiliate in Louisville, even allowing eight earned runs in one inning, Reds manager Bryan Price said that night have been because Chapman was not as focused as he was once he rejoined the Reds: “As much as you want guys to treat those assignments like a normal game, they don’t always have the same focus. The reports we had said he was throwing the ball well. He made some big pitchers to get some good hitters out.”
Rockies manager Walt Weiss agreed, saying, “Chapman threw the ball very well. He used his splitter well to left-handed hitters. He was on today.”