Bringing his trademark heat, Aroldis Chapman is on track with his Double-A rehab assignment despite a few moments of wildness Thursday night.
The team said Chapman is "on schedule" after his fifth rehab outing in the Minors, a 1 2/3-inning appearance in which he allowed two runs, walked two batters and threw a pickoff attempt into the bullpen in Double-A Carolina's 9-3 loss to Tennessee.
"He's coming along just fine, he's right along where I thought he'd be," said Carolina pitching coach Tom Brown, who said Chapman will pitch again Sunday and once more next week. "He was a little rusty early on, but he tried to figure some things out with rhythm and tempo."
Chapman matched his famous Major League record when he threw a 105-mph fastball in the seventh inning, according to the ballpark's scoreboard radar gun. Brown noted, however, that another team radar gun had the pitch at 101. It was moments after his first pitch of the night came in at 97 mph.
Either way, Chapman, who had been sidelined with shoulder inflammation, struck out three in his fifth rehab outing, setting the stage for another two-inning appearance this weekend. Brown said he'll then rest two days and throw one more inning next Wednesday before the club re-evaluates his status.
"He started off slow but the more he pitched, the better he got," Brown said. "He got a couple ground balls and was much better in general, he just got better and better."
The debated fastball was actually ball four in Chapman's one-out walk to Steve Clevenger -- he nearly hit Clevenger earlier with a 100-mph inside heater. He followed the free pass with a wild pitch to Josh Vitters.
After Vitters doubled to center, Chapman settled down to strike out Nelson Perez and Brooks Raley to end the inning, the first K coming on an 82-mph breaking pitch.
"He looked good. The ball came out of his hand smooth and he had a really good slider and a good sinker," Brown said.
The Smokies were a bit jumpy in the eighth when Chapman walked the leadoff man, Junior Lake, and then tossed a pickoff throw over first baseman Jake Kahaulelio and into the Tennessee bullpen, advancing Lake to second. When Blake Lalli followed with an RBI single, Chapman again threw over to first, prompting a few relievers to jokingly seek shelter.
"It was a nonchalant kind of throw, it just got away from him," said Brown. "With 100-degree heat, everyone is sweating like crazy, so it's no big deal. He's on schedule."
Chapman, who threw 17 strikes, caught Rebel Ridling looking for the second out of the eighth on his 37-pitch night before being pulled. Matthew Spencer's RBI double off Lee Tabor later in the inning was charged to Chapman.
The Cuban reliever allowed three runs on a walk and three hits, including a homer, in two-thirds of an inning in his first appearance with Carolina on June 7 against Chattanooga. He surrendered seven runs over 4 2/3 innings in three rehab outings at Triple-A Louisville before the Reds moved him down to the Southern League last week.
Reds manager Dusty Baker said Wednesday that Chapman will make four appearances, depending on his results -- he threw just 12 out of 24 pitches for strikes in his last outing.
"He'll throw another inning next week and then we'll assess him at that point," said Brown.
The lefty was 2-0 with a 6.92 ERA in 16 relief outings with Cincinnati earlier this year before he was placed on the 15-day disabled list May 16 with left shoulder inflammation.
Chapman's 105-mph fastball last September bested the previous recorded mark, which was 104.8 mph by Joel Zumaya of the Detroit Tigers in a playoff game on Oct. 10, 2006. Chapman had hit 105 at Triple-A Louisville last season as well.