CINCINNATI -The comeback is complete. Aroldis Chapman made his first appearance for the Cincinnati Reds on Sunday afternoon, striking out three and earning the save in a 4-1 victory over the Colorado Rockies. Chapman’s return was an emotional event for everyone involved, considering the seriousness of his injury. But it also will have a positive residual impact on the entire Reds bullpen moving forward.
Chapman, who was struck in the forehead with a line drive during a spring training game on March 19, was reinstated from the disabled list Saturday for the first time since suffering multiple facial fractures which required surgery to implant a metal plate to help stabilize the bone. He made four minor league rehab appearances before being activated.
Chapman provides a unique dynamic to the Reds bullpen with his explosive fastball. His return also means right-hander Jonathan Broxton, who recorded five saves as the Reds’ temporary closer, will move back into a setup role. And the rest of the relievers will assume the responsibilities intended for them in spring training prior to Chapman’s injury.
“We have depth now at each spot,” Reds manager Bryan Price said.
Despite allowing eight earned runs in his final two rehab starts for Triple-A Louisville, the Cuban flamethrower displayed few ill-effects from a very serious injury. On Sunday, he received a thunderous ovation from the crowd and then proceeded to strike out Rockies sluggers Carlos Gonzalez, Nolan Arenado, and Justin Morneau in succession.
“It’s remarkable, and I’m sure he’s tired of talking about it, but he’s proven he’s not affected by what happened,” said Price. “He’s ready to put it all behind him.”
Chapman’s return could prove to be the spark that’s been lacking for Cincinnati.
“To see him sprinting out there was an adrenaline rush for everyone,” said Reds Todd Frazier.
NEXT GAME: Tuesday, Padres (RHP Andrew Cashner, 2-5, 2.86 ERA) at Reds (RHP Mike Leake, 2-3, 3.40 ERA)
Aroldis Chapman is back. The left-hander closer made his first appearance since being struck in the head by a line drive in spring training and struck out three batters in succession to earn his first save in Sunday’s 4-1 victory over Colorado. “I was excited to pitch, and I got more excited when I heard the fans cheering,” Chapman said via interpreter Tomas Vera. “I know how to control myself and work without distraction. I was physically and mentally prepared. There was a lot of emotion for me.” It was Chapman’s 78th career save.
Billy Hamilton returned to the starting lineup Sunday for the first time since spraining two knuckles on his left hand making a diving catch on May 1. Manager Bryan Price used Hamilton twice in a pinch-hitting role before feeling comfortable enough to put him back in the lineup. “The batting practice he’s been able to take was the last couple days,” Price said. “The last two days, he’s taken a significant number of swings.” Hamilton impacted Sunday’s game by going 2-for-3 with a triple, walk and his 12th stolen base.
Devin Mesoraco, on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right hamstring, is expected to make one or two minor league rehab appearances next week. Mesoraco has been running with no issues. “He got good reviews on his running,” said manager Bryan Price. “He has been catching in the bullpen the last couple days. There is a good chance he will play early next week in minor league games. We don’t want to bring him back unless we see he can play at game speed.”
Homer Bailey attacked Rockies batters on Sunday, allowing one run and a season-low four hits in 7 1/3 innings. He walked two and struck out six over 112 pitches. Bailey retired nine straight in one stretch against a formidable Colorado lineup. Bailey credited an adjustment in his delivery which puts his hands more over his head, something he’d working on between starts with pitching coach Jeff Pico. “I had some mechanical faults. Needed something to get my timing back,” Bailey said. “It cuts down the extra movement.”
Skip Schumaker batted second on Sunday. “He can hit a lot of places in the lineup,” said manager Bryan Price. “I like him at second. He has a lot of plate discipline. He brings a lot of energy and baseball savvy.” Schumaker extended his hitting streak to five games, going 1-for-4 with two RBI on Sunday.
Ramon Santiago made the most of his opportunity to start Sunday’s series finale against Colorado, going 2-for-3 with a double and two runs scored in the 4-1 win over Colorado. The two runs scored were a season-high.