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Chapman clocked at 101 mph in first rehab outing

Reds closer strikes out two of three Class A batters faced in 18-pitch inning

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DAYTON, Ohio -- Aroldis Chapman said he felt "normal" Thursday night -- and normal was just what he was hoping for.

Cincinnati's All-Star closer made a Minor League rehabilitation start for Class A Dayton, striking out two of three batters while throwing 18 pitches during the first inning.

"When I say 'normal,' I mean I felt like I have always been, the way I felt before the accident," Chapman said through interpreter Tomas Veras. "There is no fear, no hesitation with me."

Thursday marked Chapman's first game action since March 19, when he was struck in the head by a line drive off the bat of Kansas City's Salvador Perez. Surgery was required to repair fractures near his nose and left eye.

Chapman threw 11 of his pitches for strikes against Lansing. The ballpark radar clocked two pitches at 101 mph, two at 100 and four at 99.

The fastest pitches actually read "01" because the scoreboard display contains only two digits. A Dayton team spokesman said no pitcher had ever reached triple digits at Fifth Third Field.

"My fastball felt really good," Chapman said. "I threw one slider, which was not a good slider. I used a lot of changeups. The pitches were all landing where I wanted them to."

D.J. Davis and Jason Leblebijian both looked at 99 mph fastballs for called third strikes, and Mitch Nay was retired on a fly ball to left.

One challenge that remains is how Chapman will react to the next line drive toward the mound.

"I don't think about that at all," Chapman said. "The only time I remember [the injury] is when you guys ask me."

The Reds have not laid out an exact timetable for Chapman's return. He is likely to make two or three more Minor League appearances, at least one in a relief role.

"I think two or three more is exactly what I need," Chapman said.

The 26-year-old left-hander had previously worked three live batting-practice sessions against Reds hitters, the most recent on Tuesday. He did not utilize a screen during the final two sessions. Chapman took fielding drills Wednesday for the first time since his injury.

Dayton pitching coach Tony Fossas watched as Chapman warmed up before the game. The crowd cheered loudly when Chapman was introduced and again when he took the mound to begin the game.

The two-time All-Star saved 38 games for Cincinnati in both 2012 and 2013.

Andy Call is a contributor to

Cincinnati Reds, Aroldis Chapman