Rehabbing Reds closer Aroldis Chapman hit 101 mph with his fastball in a perfect inning for Class A Dayton on Thursday.
Chapman, sidelined since March 19 when he was hit in the face by a line drive, struck out Lansing's D.J. Davis and Jason Leblebijian before getting Mitch Nay to fly out to left in the first inning. He threw 18 pitches in the frame and said he felt "normal" after his first rehab outing, a 9-6 win by Lansing.
"My fastball felt really good," Chapman told MLB.com. "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."
The Reds said they envision Chapman making roughly four rehab appearances this month, with at least one coming in a relief situation. Chapman was scheduled to start and throw one inning on Thursday and will likely make two more Minor League starts.
"I think two or three more is exactly what I need," Chapman said.
Pitching for Cincinnati in a Spring Training game on March 19 in Surprise, Arizona, Chapman was struck by a ball hit by Kansas City catcher Salvador Perez. Bones above Chapman's left eye and nose were broken, and he was taken off the field on a stretcher to Banner Del E. Webb Medical Center in Sun City, Arizona. He underwent surgery to repair the fractures.
Since then, the hard-throwing reliever has pitched in three live batting practice sessions against Reds hitters without difficulties. On Wednesday, he took pitchers' fielding drills for the first time before joining Dayton's roster.
The 26-year-old looked familiar to Reds fans on Thursday, throwing 11 of his 18 pitches for strikes.
"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."
Aroldis Chapman struck out two of the three batters he faced in his Dayton debut. (Nick Falzerano/Dayton Dragons)
Two of Chapman's fastballs hit 101 mph on the radar gun at Dayton's Fifth Third Field, although the scoreboard there can't display triple digits -- it showed "01" instead. The Dragons said no pitcher had ever reached triple digits with a pitch at the ballpark until Chapman.
The Reds haven't set the remainder of Chapman's rehab schedule, but said the process shouldn't take long.
"We're going to get through one at a time," Reds manager Bryan Price told MLB.com on Wednesday. "We have a schedule. We have a template. We're not going through this blindly. We'd just like to see him go out there and pitch in a game before we announce any further outings. I think that's the responsible thing to do. He's stretched out. His arm is in great shape. It's just a matter of real game situations. We feel he is ready. It shouldn't be a terribly long rehab stint, I believe."
Chapman spoke about the reality of facing more line-drive comebackers in the future, a scary thought for any pitcher.
"I don't think about that at all," he said. "The only time I remember [the injury] is when you guys ask me."