Dayton– Cincinnati Reds star reliever Aroldis Chapman made his first professional live game appearance Thursday night since being struck in the face on March 19th in Arizona. Chapman looked to be back on form in his return.
The Cuban pitcher hit 101 mph in the first inning of the Dayton Dragons game against the Lansing Lugnuts. Chapman said he felt “normal” out on the mound Thursday. Chapman pitched the first inning, faced three batters striking out two in the process.
Chapman threw 18 pitches, 11 of those pitches were strikes. The first two batters of the game D.J. Davis and Jason Leblebijan struck out looking both with full counts. The next batter Mitch Nay his a liner to the left field warning track. That was the only ball put into play while Chapman was in the game.
“There’s no hesitation, I feel really normal. I think felling positive like I am right now is what’s giving me confidence on the mound right now. I have no fear at all.” Chapman said through his interpreter following his appearance for the Dayton Dragons.
Thursday marked Chapman’s first game since March 19th. He has pitched four bullpen sessions since that day and live batting practice as well. The plan for Chapman is to pitch 3-4 times in the minors before rejoining the big club. Chapman will also move from Dayton to Louisville for his next start, likely to face a better collection of hitters.
The radar board in Dayton was not equipped to handle the speed of Aroldis Chapman. “00” and “01” is what the scoreboard read while Chapman pitched, he defied science. Or Dayton just needs an upgrade, you can decide.