Chapman carried off on stretcher after hit in head
Pitcher never loses consciousness, but suffers fractures above his left eye and nose
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Reds closer Aroldis Chapman was carried off on a stretcher after being struck in the face by a line drive off the bat of Royals catcher Salvador Perez, creating a terrifying moment and abruptly ending Wednesday night's game in the sixth inning.
The Reds said Chapman was taken to Banner Del E. Webb Medical Center in Sun City, where tests indicated fractures above his left eye and nose. He was transferred to Banner Good Samaritan Medical Center, where he will undergo further testing. Chapman was kept overnight for observation.
Trainers from both clubs immediately rushed to aid Chapman, who was laying face down on the mound while the Surprise Stadium crowd fell completely silent. Chapman's father, in the stands, rushed onto the field. Players from both teams took a knee near the mound and around the field. Chapman was immobilized and placed on a stretcher and carried off by a medical cart while being respectfully applauded by the fans.
"He never lost consciousness," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "He was able to communicate. He was able to move his hands, his feet, his legs. I'm not a doctor. I don't want to go much further than that. It got him pretty flush just above the left eye is what it looks like."
Price said he could see blood coming from above Chapman's eye.
"Not good," Price said of the scene around Chapman. "He left the field on a stretcher. He took a line drive just above his left eye is what it looks like -- a contusion, a laceration and certainly needs to be taken to the hospital and checked out."
Reds assistant trainer Tomas Vera, who also serves as Chapman's translator, went off of the field with Chapman and accompanied him to the hospital.
Todd Frazier (@FlavaFraz21) March 20, 2014
"It was the most frightening thing I've ever been a part of," Reds right fielder Jay Bruce said. "I never got close enough to see it. The way it was explained, as hard as he throws and as hard as that ball was hit off of the bat, we're hoping for the best."
Chapman entered the game vs. Kansas City to begin the bottom of the sixth with Cincinnati trailing by a 5-3 score, and he was struggling throughout the inning. With two outs, one hit allowed and four walks issued, Chapman fired a 0-2 pitch to Perez.
The 99 mph offering from Chapman was crushed by Perez up the middle. The ball struck Chapman in the front of his head, and he immediately went down. A run scored on a Perez single.
After a 12-minute delay, the game was not continued and the Royals were 6-3 winners. Price and Royals manager Ned Yost met on the field when the decision was made.
"They, along with the umpire crew, just decided that for everybody's safety and best interests that we're just going to go ahead and call tonight's game and just be done with it and really focus on the ballplayer hit, Chapman," home-plate umpire Chris Guccione said.
"You just can't find it in your heart to go out there and play," Price said. "Baseball is game to be played with a lot of joy in your heart and determination and focus. I don't think anybody was able to do that after that moment."
Bruce certainly agreed with the decision, as well.
"I believe the last thing on everyone's mind on the field at that point was the game," he said. "It's Spring Training, so it doesn't hold a lot of weight anyway. There are not words to explain how everyone is feeling right now. It's terrible. It really is. It's dangerous. It happens every once in a while and you never know. It was completely inadvertent. None of that is happening on purpose. It's one of the dangers of the game."
"The fun goes out of it all," Yost said. "It's just not a productive atmosphere after that to continue the game. You're just not going to get anything out of it. And we all play this game, but nobody wants to see anybody get hurt ever. When something like that happens, it's a feeling that affects both teams. I didn't want to go on, my players didn't want to go on. It's just one of those things."
The Royals were also shaken by the incident, and according to a team spokesman, they decided not to discuss it publicly. Yost said that Perez was understandably upset.
"Nobody ever wants to see that happen," Yost said. [Perez] is a real caring guy, so he's definitely upset right now.
Keep Chapman in your thoughts and Prayers. That was one of the worst I've ever seen. Praying he comes back quick!- JJ Hoover (@JJ_Hoover) March 20, 2014
"You can't really tell him, 'Don't feel bad about it,' because we all feel bad about it. But it wasn't anything that he tried to do or meant to do. It was just something that happened. It wasn't a fun thing to watch or see, but there's really not much you can say."
Chapman, 26, is a two-time National League All-Star closer who has saved 38 games out of 43 attempts in each of the past two seasons. He signed a six-year, $30.25 million contract in January 2010 after defecting from Cuba. Last year, Chapman's parents were able to arrive in the United States to join him, and during this past offseason, his 4-year-old daughter and her mother successfully emigrated to South Florida as well.
Entering the game, Chapman had 3.60 ERA in five appearances, totaling 10 innings.
Price, a first-year manager for Cincinnati after being its pitching coach the past four seasons, felt Chapman's injury was one of the scarier things he has seen on a field.
"You can't imagine it," Price said. "I know this isn't as uncommon perhaps as we'd like it to be. It was certainly a frightening moment."