- David Schoenfield, SweetSpot blogger
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Reds closer Aroldis Chapman was hit in the head by a line drive off the bat of Salvador Perez in Wednesday night's spring training game in Surprise, Ariz. Chapman was carted off the field and the game ended in the sixth inning. Here's the sad scene as concerned Reds and Royals players looked on:
— Mark Sheldon (@m_sheldon) March 20, 2014
According to reporters on site, Reds manager Bryan Price said Chapman suffered a laceration and a contusion above his left eye but never lost consciousness. (Update: Tests indicated fractures about the left eye and nose.)
Price and Royals manager Ned Yost met with the umpires after a 12-minute delay and agreed to stop game. "The fun goes out of it all," Yost told MLB.com. "It's just not a productive atmosphere after that to continue the game. You're just not going to get anything out of it. And we all play this game but nobody wants to see anybody get hurt ever."
Obviously, you hope Chapman will be OK to pitch as soon as possible, but your immediate thoughts go to those pitchers hit in the head by line drives. Last August, Toronto lefty J.A. Happ had his skull fractured by a line drive; in September of 2012, A's pitcher Brandon McCarthy suffered a skull fracture, epidural hemorrhage and a brain contusion that required surgery and six days in the hospital. Rays pitcher Alex Cobb also was hospitalized last year after getting hit by a 102 mph line drive.
Happ and Cobb both returned later in the season. McCarthy returned to pitch last season with the Diamondbacks. One of the more famous cases of a pitcher getting hit was Herb Score, a hard-throwing Indians left-hander in the 1950s who led the American League in strikeouts his first two seasons. The Yankees' Gil McDougald hit Score in the face with a line drive early in the 1957 season and he missed the rest of the year. While some speculated that Score changed his motion when he finally returned in 1958 and got injured, Score said he tore a tendon in his arm in a game against the Senators. (Indeed, Score had made five starts in April of 1958, missed all of May, and then returned for a June 14 start against the Senators in which he left after three innings.)
The injuries to McCarthy, Cobb and Happ were one reason Major League Baseball gave pitchers the option of wearing a padded cap this year, although McCarthy, who had been a proponent of such protective cap, has declined to wear one this spring, telling ESPN.com's Jayson Stark in late January that "I won't wear it in its current form."
This incident is the latest news to affect the Reds pitching staff. Earlier in the day, the Reds announced Homer Bailey's Friday start would be pushed back because of a strained right groin, maybe until Sunday.
"We just don't feel at this time that it's worth risking," Price said. "We could push it back a couple of days and he can be ready for the regular season without having to start on the [disabled list]."
Fellow starter Mat Latos had minor knee surgery at the beginning of spring training and made his first spring appearance on Wednesday, pitching two innings in a minor league game.
If Chapman is unable to go at the start of the season, Jonathan Broxton becomes the likely closer for the Reds. J.J. Hoover would be another possibility after a strong season in 2013, but he's struggled in spring training with five walks and one strikeout.