Partch optioned to Triple-A as Broxton returns to setup role
CINCINNATI -- It was a traumatic moment when Aroldis Chapman was struck in the face by a line drive during Spring Training. But it is a moment from which the Reds' closer has moved past rather quickly under the circumstances.
The corner was turned, officially, when Chapman was activated from the disabled list on Saturday. To make room for Chapman on the 25-man roster, the Reds optioned reliever Curtis Partch to Triple-A Louisville.
"I'm really happy to be back with my team," Chapman said via translator Tomas Vera.
On March 19, during the sixth inning of a Spring Training game vs. the Royals in Surprise, Ariz., Chapman's 99 mph fastball to Salvador Perez was lined hard off the front of his head. He sustained a mild concussion and fractures above his left eye and nose.
After surgery the following day, when a three-inch metal plate was inserted to protect the fractures, Chapman was expected to miss up to eight weeks. His return came right on target.
"It's remarkable," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "I think it's something that he's probably done talking about. I don't think he needs a refresher. He has proven throughout the course of his rehab that he's not affected by the events of Spring Training that happened in Surprise against the Royals. I think he's really trying to put it behind him and focus on being a part of the team again and helping us win games."
The 26-year-old Chapman saved 38 games in 43 chances and worked 68 games in each of the past two seasons for Cincinnati.
Price planned to plug Chapman immediately into the closer's role, opting not to ease him back into service.
"I don't think he needs a soft landing," Price said. "His arm has never been in question. His arm has always been healthy. The issue was resolving the injury, which was a significant injury, and getting him back to being in regular-season shape. We feel like we've accomplished that."
Chapman worked four Minor League rehab assignment games with Class A Dayton and Triple-A Louisville. He was knocked around for eight earned runs and seven hits in a combined one inning over games on Tuesday and Wednesday for Louisville, but the reports were positive overall.
"He satisfied everything we wanted him to do, and that was to go out and make a certain number of rehab appearances," Price said. "The ball is coming out of his hand good. He's got good velocity and a good slider and changeup he's been throwing. He's ready."
In Chapman's absence, Jonathan Broxton filled in as the closer and was 5-for-6 in save chances -- with his first blown save coming during Friday night's 4-3 walk-off win over the Rockies.
The bullpen as a whole has struggled this season and should be more stable with Chapman closing and Broxton returning to a setup role.
Chapman looked forward to contributing once again.
"Always, you want to be with the team," he said. "There are some things that are out of your hands. I want to be with my team and help my team."