World of Sport

‘Like a bullet to the head’ – 110mph baseball smashes pitcher’s face

World of Sport

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Baseball might seem like a game for pudgy non-athletes, where three hours of tobacco-chewing is only occasionally interrupted by the chore of having to swing a bat or catch a ball.

But a pre-season Major League game in Arizona showed it can be as fast, dramatic and downright dangerous as any sport in the world.

Cincinnati Reds pitcher Aroldis Chapman suffered a broken nose and a fracture above the left eye after being smashed in the face by a rocket shot hit by Salvador Perez of the Kansas City Royals.

The speeding ball, thrown by Chapman at 99mph and hit back at an estimated 110mph by Perez, struck the defenceless player who was still finishing his follow-through.

Both teams immediately agreed to abandon the game while medics attended to Chapman, and Perez appeared to leave the field in tears.

Later, Perez said: "It was the most frightening thing I've ever been a part of it. I never got close enough to see it. But the way it was explained to me - as hard as he throws and as hard as that ball was hit off the bat - I hope for the best."

Royals manager Ned Yost said: "It was an absolute bullet that Sal (Perez) hit. It's just a real sickening feeling for everybody."

Chapman underwent two-and-a-half hours of surgery in Phoenix to insert a metal plate on the bone above his eye to stabilise the injury.

Incredibly, Cincinnati team doctor Tim Kremchek said Chapman was not only awake and alert, but that he could return to competitive action inside a month.

"(He) knows what's going on," Kremchek said on Thursday. "The idea is to get that fixed and hopefully within a couple of weeks, he can start exercises and start throwing and hopefully be back in six to eight weeks with contact. The problem is you don't want him to get back to contact or pitching too soon, because just in case another accident or some type of collision happens or a baseball hits him again.

"He has a very mild concussion, no other brain injury. His eyes are fine. Right now, he's a very lucky guy. He was very well taken care of here in Arizona. He's at the right place, the right hospital. He's got some very good doctors taking care of him."

World of Sport wishes Chapman a swift recovery.

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