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Chapman 'outstanding' in return to mound

CINCINNATI -- Reds closer Aroldis Chapman has continued to make a rapid recovery in the nearly one month since he was struck in the face by a line drive during Spring Training. The latest milestone came on Monday, when Chapman pitched off of a bullpen mound for the first time.

Chapman threw 25 pitches in the bullpen at Great American Ball Park with general manager Walt Jocketty and manager Bryan Price among those watching.

"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."

Now he has to do it again, and again. The Reds are not planning on rushing Chapman back to face hitters. There will be a few more bullpen sessions to come before he can progress forward.

"It was an obvious and essential step to the next thing, which will be live batting practice and game situations," Price said. "I think facing batters will be the biggest hurdle for him initially, but we haven't seen any reason to feel like he's anything other than optimistic about getting back on the mound and facing hitters."

Price said that Chapman would be given the option to pitch behind a screen the first time when he eventually does face hitters. Shortly after he was injured by a Salvador Perez liner vs. the Royals, Chapman underwent surgery and had a metal plate inserted to stabilize fractures above the left eye and nose. Before he can be exposed to contact, the medical staff wants to make sure he has fully healed.

There is no timetable for when he might face hitters or perform fielding drills.

"I will do whatever they decide to do with me," Chapman said via translator Tomas Vera. "I have to wait for what the doctor's decision is, what Bryan's decision is. I feel physically, mentally and my arm feels really well right now."

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for Read his blog, Mark My Word, and follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon.
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