Chapman cracks tooth, splits lip in fall
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Aroldis Chapman’s Royals debut was supposed to be Sunday against the Mariners, but it was delayed a few days after he slipped and fell at home Saturday night.
The relief pitcher slipped, cracked a tooth and split open his lip, requiring a trip to the emergency room and stitches. Chapman spent most of the night icing the swollen lip and didn’t get much sleep, manager Matt Quatraro said, so the Royals pushed his first appearance back a couple of days.
Chapman played catch and participated in pitchers fielding practice on Monday morning. He likely will throw a bullpen session on Tuesday and get into a game later this week.
“I feel good,” Chapman said through interpreter Luis Perez. “I had an accident at home, fell, bumped my lip and had a couple stitches on the outside and one on the inside. Now I’m feeling good. I told them I was good to go.”
Chapman signed a $3.75 million contract this offseason with the Royals, a one-year deal that includes performance bonuses. Kansas City is banking on a turnaround from Chapman, known for his consistent triple-digit velocity as a dominant closer early in his career. The 34-year-old is coming off one of the worst years of his career, blemished by multiple stints on the injured list. He is healthy now and is working to earn save opportunities in Kansas City.
“It’s a great environment here,” Chapman said. “I feel comfortable here. Lot of young players with a lot of talent. So getting to know everybody has been good. Training hard and trying to get back. God willing, I’ll have a great year.”
Chapman trained this offseason in Miami and saw Royals catcher Salvador Perez frequently. They trained together some, and Perez put on the full-court press when it came to recruiting Chapman to join the Royals.
“Most of it,” Chapman said when asked how much Perez’s recruitment helped bring him to the Royals. “All of it. It was him.”
While Chapman has been involved in several off-field issues before, the Royals are not concerned about this one, with one official saying it was an “unfortunate accident.”
Kowar’s spring debut
Jackson Kowar’s spring debut seemed like a “tale of two halves,” he said. He entered in the eighth inning of the Royals' 10-4 loss to the Brewers on Monday afternoon, and the first three batters produced two doubles and a homer -- three runs, three hits, three barrels. Then there were the next three at-bats, which ended in a groundout and two strikeouts.
“The first three batters were barrels, and the next three, I was missing bats,” Kowar said. “Frustrated with the early runs, but I was really happy to throw some sliders and put things together at the end. The slider, to be honest, felt like the best it’s ever felt.”
Kowar got a few called strikes on his slider -- the biggest priority of his offseason -- against Isaac Collins, a switch-hitter who was batting lefty and grounded out to first. And he got a big swing and miss on the pitch against Joe Gray Jr. That’s when Kowar felt back into the inning.
“It was a really good indicator of what that pitch could be,” Kowar said. “The pitches felt better with the intensity going up. It’s kind of a cutter-slider It’s a lot harder this year. So with better intensity, the harder I throw it, the better it feels coming out.”
Kowar is battling for a roster spot and will likely get a better opportunity in the big leagues as a reliever. A first-round Draft pick in 2018, he hasn’t had the same flashes of success at the big league level as such fellow high draft picks as Brady Singer, Daniel Lynch and Kris Bubic.
Kowar’s success hinges on his ability to command his pitches, and he couldn’t do that initially Monday. He threw 26 pitches total in his inning, 15 strikes.
“I threw a 3-2 changeup to a lefty for the leadoff double,” Kowar said. “That’s fine, but then I think the next two hits were 2-0 and a 3-1.
“You just can’t pitch at this level like that. I’m going to have to start filling up the zone more. But I am very encouraged with the way it ended up, getting around barrels and missing bats.”