Few major league pitchers will admit it, but there's one fear that's all but universal to every hurler — a blistered come-backer off an opponent's bat screaming back toward the mound while the pitcher sits defenseless at the end of his delivery.
That fear has played out in a few ugly scenes in recent years — gruesome line drive injuries to Toronto's J.A. Happ last season and that horrible incident with Oakland's Brandon McCarthy in 2012 that led to emergency surgery are now all too indelible in the minds of baseball players and fans.
Unfortunately, that stomach-turning twist to the game happened again Wednesday.
As reported on Crave sports site NESN, Cincinnati Reds pitcher Aroldis Chapman suffered broken bones in his face after the closer's pitch was rifled back at the mound during a Reds-Royals spring training game in Arizona.
Chapman crumbled to the ground after his sixth-inning, 99 mph fastball was scorched back up the middle by Royals catcher Salvador Perez, leaving both teams and a stadium full of fans stunned and silenced. After Chapman was stabilized and taken off the field in an ambulance to a nearby hospital, the game was called with the Royals leading 6-3.
As ugly as the injury looks, Chapman is expected to recover in 6-to-8 weeks after undergoing surgery to repair facial fractures Thursday.