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.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Royals and first baseman Eric Hosmer have discussed a long-term contract extension. However, Hosmer also indicated that he will head into free agency if a deal is not consummated by Opening Day.
Hosmer, 27, avoided arbitration with the Royals last month, agreeing to a $12.25 million salary for the 2017 season. He is one of four key Royals players who can become a free agent after the season along with Mike Moustakas, Alcides Escobar, and Lorenzo Cain. If Hosmer does reach free agency, he would arguably be the top free agent first baseman.
Hosmer finished the past season hitting .266/.328/.433 with 25 home runs and 104 RBI while making his first All-Star team.
Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that the Yankees have signed pitcher Jon Niese to a minor league contract, pending a physical. Assuming the deal is finalized, Sherman notes that the Yankees will have Niese work as both a starter and a reliever in big league camp this spring.
According to Sherman, the Yankees were interested in lefty relievers Jerry Blevins and Boone Logan, but didn’t want to commit at their asking prices. They are looking for a lefty set-up man along with Tommy Lane.
Niese, 30, pitched for the Pirates and Mets last season, finishing with a 5.50 ERA and an 88/47 K/BB ratio over 121 innings.