Cincinnati Reds closer Aroldis Chapman has to count himself as one of the luckiest baseball players ever. His exodus to America from Cuba notwithstanding, Chapman took one of the most wicked line drives to the face imaginable — the kind that looked like the impact would either kill or blind him.
But instead of his life — much less his baseball career — being in doubt, it appears that Chapman is on the verge of returning to game action.
Chapman has rapidly recovered from the surgical procedure to implant a plate above his eye. So rapidly, in fact, that he is now scheduled to throw live batting practice. Chapman has already thrown bullpen sessions, so his arm shouldn’t be too far off from what it was at the end of spring training when Chapman was drilled in the face with a line drive off the bat of Kansas City Royals catcher Salvador Perez.
Chapman will have to pitch during a rehab assignment in the minors before he can be ready to resume his role as closer for the Reds, but at the rate of his recovery so far, his return will likely be sooner than anyone could’ve expected, especially when considering how hard and directly he was hit by the line drive that sidelined him.
The emerging question during the recovery process for Chapman has been how well will he respond mentally to his return rather than physically, since his eye wasn’t permanently affected by the hit. The answer to that question appears to be on the near horizon as to whether or not Chapman will become the Cuban Missile once again.