Thursday, 20 March 2014

Dealing with A Blow

Injuries are one of the most fatal parts to contribute to the finishing of careers, and you never want to see it happen. But as everyone knows, they are always a relevant part of the game, in any sport.

Wednesday afternoon in Major League Baseball spring training action, the Kansas City Royals faced off against the Cincinnati Reds at Surprise Stadium in Arizona. One of my previous blogs was dedicated to visiting the importance of spring training baseball and how much it really means to everyone involved. Yesterday saw a more important, albeit scary situation that was much more important than a simple game of baseball.

Heading into the bottom of the sixth inning, Aroldis Chapman, the closing pitcher of the Cincinnati Reds had come into the game. Fast forward to many batters later, the bases loaded, and two outs, Chapman was looking to get out of the inning with as little run damage as possible and Salvador Perez, the Royals catcher stepping up to the plate. Little did he know that Perez would send him to the hospital. 

As a closing pitcher you're job is to finish off the game in as little time as possible, and the closing pitchers in the MLB arguably throw the hardest and fastest on the mound. Chapman threw a ninety nine mile-per-hour fastball to Perez who got a hold of it, which then of all places went straight for Chapman's face. The devastating impact dropped Chapman like a pile of bricks. Originally Salvador Perez thought Chapman got his glove on it, but instantly realized this was not the case. 

The training staff of both the Reds and the Royals headed out to treat Chapman for whatever damage had been done. The game had currently been in the 6th inning, and was immediately stopped at that point. Of course fans and players may have been disappointed that they didn't get to see the full nine innings played, but also everyone realizes the seriousness of the issue. Chapman was eventually carted off the field and sent to the hospital. As for Perez, he immediately hopped in a team vehicle and headed to the hospital to visit the injured opponent. Perez admitted that he was sad that the closer would not be able to participate in Opening Day. Chapman was capable of communication and was enthused that the Royals player made the visit to the hospital room. 

The emotions sent to the player that cause the injury cause an intense effect on them as well, and the Royals head coach was quick to contact the batter and his player Perez. He gave Perez the day off on Thursday to try and heal mentally form the trauma, but Perez did eventually show up to camp on his own will. 

In the case of Aroldis Chapman, he underwent surgery on Thursday morning to have a metal plate placed in his head. His recovery time has been estimated at 6-8 weeks, which does not mean he will be able to pitch after that time period.  He was up and well after surgery and is confident in a return in 2014. That quesiton was asked to team doctor, Tim Kremchek, in which he replied "Absolutely".

Cincinnati Reds catcher Brayan Pena also came to visit Chapman in the hospital, and as a catcher you create a special bond with a pitcher. In his visit he joked to Chapman that he should have called for a slider instead of a fastball, in which Chapman responded "maybe I should have thrown it a little slower". 

Witnessing an injury is not an easy thing to do, whether it be a leg injury, a minor fracture in a finger, or in this case, a line drive to the temple. It creates physical pain to the one being injured, and mental pain to others involved in every sense. In the case of Aroldis Chapman, he has a high regard for humour and is hopeful for an early return t the mound. 

On a lighter note, early in Chapman's career when he was placed in the closer role for the Cincinnati Reds, he would celebrate with a somersault. Not an ideal way  to celebrate winning a game, and was ultimately stopped soon after the few opportunities he had in that role. It is athletes like him that keep us watching with his powerful outings on the mound and unexpected entertainment on the field. Here's to a quick recovery Aroldis Chapman, maybe in your return the coach will allow you to do another somersault.

Who ever thought you would see this a the end of a Major League Baseball game?