No fear in taking hill, but Reds' Chapman rocked in rehab start
MAY 06, 2014 9:24p ET
LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Aroldis Chapman got roughed up in his first rehab start for Cincinnati Triple-A affiliate Louisville against Norfolk Tuesday night at Louisville Slugger Field but he was hardly feeling down.
Chapman allowed five earned runs on four hits in just 2/3 of an inning while throwing 33 pitches (21 for strikes) against eight batters from the top minor-league affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles. Chapman's arm strength won't be in issue -- he hit 100 mph on the stadium radar seven times with a high of 101 mph -- but he had control problems. He walked one batter, hit another and uncorked a wild pitch.
That was the biggest concern from the outing for the Reds' left-handed closer, not the runs allowed.
"He said feels good and he's happy to be out there throwing again," said translator Rigo Febles, an assistant strength and conditioning coach for the Reds minor-league system. "He feels good physically. His fastball, he felt that it was good but he didn't have the control tonight"
The Reds were planning for Chapman to start Tuesday and then come back and pitch out of the bullpen in relief on Wednesday. That plan may be adjusted after Tuesday's high pitch count.
Chapman said he hadn't been told of Wednesday's plan yet. A lot will depend on how Chapman feels Wednesday morning — first pitch is scheduled for 11:05 a.m. ET for the Bats and Norfolk Tides.
Chapman is working his way back from being struck with a line drive off the bat of Kansas City's Salvador Perez in a spring training game in Arizona on March 19. Chapman required surgery to insert a titanium plate above his left eye and nasal region to stabilize and heal multiple fractures he suffered in the incident.
Norfolk leadoff batter Steve Lombardozzi, who has played 276 games in the major leagues, lined a single past Chapman's head on the fourth pitch of the game. The ball wasn't hit nearly as hard as the one by Perez but it was still close enough to Chapman's head to bring back memories of six weeks ago for anyone watching.
Chapman said he wasn't thinking about March 19. Through Febles, Chapman noted that while the ball did go over his head it wasn't hit that firmly.
This was Chapman's third rehab start. He pitched two scoreless innings for Class-A Dayton last week, recording three strikeouts with one walk while throwing a total of 34 pitches.
"With his two outings in Dayton, he said he didn't feel like he was timid or scared," said Febles. "Today, he didn't feel like he was timid or scared. Tomorrow (Wednesday) he's supposed to throw another inning and to this point it hasn't affected him."
Ivan DeJesus followed Lombardozzi with another single up the middle, this one hit harder but on the ground.
Chapman struck out former Reds outfielder Xavier Paul on three pitches, getting him to swing and miss on a slider away for the first out of the inning, but loaded the bases when he hit left-handed hitting Brett Wallace on the hand with a 1-2 fastball. Norfolk scored its first run on a fielder's choice by Chris Marrero, a ball hit to shortstop Argenis Diaz that should have been a double play and gotten Chapman out of the inning.
Diaz fielded the ball cleanly and flipped to second baseman Hernan Iribarren to force Wallace, but Iribarren had trouble getting the ball out of his glove and couldn't make the throw to first base.
Chapman threw 18 more pitches after that play.
He walked catcher Johnny Monell after going to a full count. Chapman then started with two balls out of the strike zone to Cord Phelps, but came back with a swinging strike and a called strike to even the count. Phelps fouled off two pitches before singling to center to drive in DeJesus and Marrero.
Chapman was ahead of third baseman Buck Britton 1-2 before Britton doubled to deep center field. He had fouled off pitches that registered 100 and 101 on the radar gun. Chapman was removed from the game at this point.
"He said he just didn't have control of his fastball today," Febles said. "He honestly wasn't thinking about striking guys out, just locate his fastball but it wasn't there today."