Chapman nears return but Bruce out for Reds
MAY 04, 2014 3:01p ET
There are those in baseball who believe that sliding head first into any base is like sticking your head inside an alligator's mouth. Nothing good can come of it unless you like deep teeth marks.
Base thief Billy Hamilton discovered the imminent danger the first week of the season in New York. He slid head first trying to steal second base and not only did he suffer the indignity of getting thrown out but he jammed the middle finger of his left hand.
And nearly a month into the season that finger still hurt when he sprained it and another finger Thursday making a diving catch in center field. He hasn't played since.
Cincinnati Reds manager Bryan Price was asked if maybe he might advise Hamilton to use his feet instead of his hands on base theft attempts, no more head first slides.
It isn't something Price wants to do.
"You are more susceptible to hand injuries if you go head first," said Price. "But his main weapon is his speed and efficiency in stealing bases. If he is more productive that way, then that's the way he is going to do it.
"I'd hate to take that away from him because it is a part of what he does and who he is and what makes him special," Price added. "Making him more conventional might take away that speed tool. I don't see it as an issue. It is his style of play."
Price is a bit giddy about another facet of the game, his closer, Aroldis Chapman. If all goes to according to protocol. Chapman will return to the Reds Friday when the team opens a six-game homestand against Colorado.
Chapman must pass two more tests with the Triple-A Louisville Bats. He is scheduled to pitch Tuesday and potentially Wednesday, his first back-to-back appearances.
"There is a chance he'll go back-to-back, but everyting is day-to-day," said Price. "We have to get through one before we can do the next. And we hope to have him back for the next homestand. But let's get through the Louisville games first."
Price said Chapman will start the first game, as he has done for all his rehab appearances, but on Wednesday he may come out of the bullpen late in the games.
Somebody jokingly suggested that Chapman hasn't been very good as a starter, "Because only lasts one inning each start and gets knocked out (although he has yet to permit a base runner)."
Price laughed and said, "Well done. He's killing the bullpens down there, isn't he?" More laughter. "Good humor." Somebody else suggested that Price's quote would be a headline in the New York Post: "Chapman killing minor-league bullpens."
And Price had one other reason to smile as little by little the cracked and fractured piece of his team returns to health.
The latest arrival is outfielder Skip Schumaker, who separated his shoulder making a diving catch the last week of spring training and missed the first week of the season. He returned Saturday in a pinch-run role and on Sunday he started in center field in place of Hamiiton.
"I'm really happy to have Skip back," said Price. "He is a guy that any manager has watched play as an opposing manager would say, 'Man, I'd love to have that guy on my team.' He has that appeal to our players. They are drawn to him and his style of playing and preparing and there is nothing but positives having him back."
Where does it end? Price needs to place a couple of masks on his desk -- those theatre marks with one smiling and one frowning because day-to-day he never knows whether the injury news will be good or bad.