Aroldis Chapman made a triumphant return to the Reds’ bullpen Sunday afternoon at Great American Ball Park, earning a save and striking out three in his first appearance of the 2014 regular season. He issued a leadoff walk to Troy Tulowitzki in a 4-1 game but then rallied to fan Carlos Gonzalez, Nolan Arenado, and Justin Morneau in order.
Chapman hit 101 mph on his final pitch, and 15 of his 21 deliveries were clocked at 100 mph or higher.
The fireballing Cuban left-hander suffered fractures around his nose and left eye when he was struck by a comebacker in a March 19 spring game. He showed no shyness on the mound Sunday. Here’s the final strike, courtesy of MLB.com …
Chapman entered 2014 with a 2.40 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, and 324 strikeouts in 198 2/3 career innings.
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.
Reds reliever Raisel Iglesias hasn’t appeared in a Grapefruit League game since March 14 and now we know why. He injured his right elbow and both hips falling in the shower three weeks ago, Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports. He has had anti-inflammatory shots applied in both areas and he’ll be be shut down from pitching for a few more days.
Iglesias might not be ready for Opening Day, according to manager Bryan Price. Iglesias, however, thinks otherwise. He said, “I’m going to be OK. I’m probably going to throw one bullpen, and after that, mentally and physically, I’ll be ready to join the season and compete.”
Price said throughout the offseason that he intended to pick his closer according to the matchups rather than naming one official closer. As a result, this injury likely doesn’t change much except that Michael Lorenzen, Drew Storen, and Tony Cingrani may get a few more early season save chances if Iglesias doesn’t start the season on time.
Iglesias, 27, finished last season with a 2.53 ERA and an 83/26 K/BB ratio in 78 1/3 innings across five starts and 32 relief appearances.