Excellent news for the Reds and really, all baseball fans, as Aroldis Chapman threw off the mound today for the first time since he was hit in the face by a line drive on March 19.
According to Mark Sheldon of MLB.com, Chapman threw a total of 25 pitches. Reds manager Bryan Price was among those in attendance and he was pleased with what he saw from the hard-throwing left-hander.
“He threw the ball outstanding,” Price said. “He threw all of his pitches, including his slider. He was sharp, extremely enthusiastic and happy to be out there as we all were. It was exciting.”
Chapman suffered fractures above his left eye and nose as a result of the comebacker and required surgery to have a plate inserted in his forehead. He’ll need to make it through multiple bullpen sessions before facing live hitters and the Reds will give him an option to pitch behind a screen when he’s ready to do that. The Reds aren’t going to rush him back into action, but things are looking up for him to contribute in the near future.
Jonathan Broxton was activated from the disabled list last week and is expected to serve as Cincinnati’s closer until Chapman is ready to return.
Jake Arrieta‘s bat is in midseason form already. The Cubs’ ace swatted a solo home run to center field off of Zack Greinke in Thursday afternoon’s Grapefruit League exhibition game, his first homer of the spring.
The blast went 465 feet, according to MLB.com’s Daren Willman.
Arrieta has hit two home runs in each of the past two seasons. Madison Bumgarner (eight) and Noah Syndergaard (four) are the only other pitchers to match or exceed his output in that department.
Greinke, meanwhile, is hoping to bounce back after a miserable 2016 season. He finished with an uncharacteristic 4.37 ERA in 26 starts in his first year with the Diamondbacks.
Angels first baseman Luis Valbuena will miss the next four to six weeks with a strained right hamstring, Pedro Moura of the Los Angeles Times reports.
Valbuena, 31, signed a two-year, $15 million contract with the Angels in January and was on track to get the lion’s share of the playing time at first base. While he’s out, however, C.J. Cron will handle first base on a regular basis. When Valbeuna returns, the two will likely form a platoon.
Last year with the Astros, Valbuena hit a solid .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances.