Royals distraught over horrid injury to Chapman
Perez too upset to discuss incident after his liner nails Reds pitcher in head
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The Royals' clubhouse was grim and silent as the players thought of the Reds' fallen pitcher, Aroldis Chapman, on Wednesday night.
Their game with the Reds was called off in the sixth inning after catcher Salvador Perez' line drive struck Chapman in the forehead, sending him crumpling to the dirt of the pitcher's mound.
The Reds said Chapman was taken to Banner Del E. Webb Medical Center in Sun City, where tests indicated fractures above his left eye and nose. He was transferred to Banner Good Samaritan Medical Center, where he will undergo further testing. He will be kept overnight for observation.
Perez, after hitting the drive, was obviously deeply concerned and knelt at the edge of the mound as trainers and paramedics worked over Chapman. After being treated for more than 10 minutes, Chapman was put on a stretcher and taken on a cart to a waiting ambulance.
Afterward Perez was shaken and asked to be excused from talking to reporters.
"He's fine, he's upset obviously. Nobody ever wants to see that happen," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "He's a real caring guy so he's definitely upset right now."
Perez, after three pitches and an 0-2 count with the bases loaded, hit a drive that struck Chapman and hushed the crowd of more than 6,000.
"When you see what happens, there are a lot of things that go into your mind: Was it a glancing blow, was it a solid blow?" Yost said. "And you knew the ball bounced straight back to our dugout and that it wasn't a glancing blow. It was an absolute bullet that Sal hit. It's just a real sickening feeling for everybody. You just let the doctors and trainers do their job."
Yost was watching from the third-base dugout as the medical team worked on Chapman, joined by the pitcher's father, who rushed out from the stands.
"He was moving," Yost said. "I don't think he lost consciousness. I know he was bleeding a lot. I'm not exactly sure where it got him, I think it got him above the eye. I'm not sure on that. I haven't talked to my trainers or the doctors, but it was a good shot."
There was no question in his mind that the game should be stopped immediately.
"The fun goes out of it all. It's just not a productive atmosphere after that to continue the game. You're just not going to get anything out of it," Yost said. "And we all play this game but nobody wants to see anybody get hurt ever. When something like that happens, it's a feeling that affects both teams. I didn't want to go on, my players didn't want to go on. It's just one of those things."
The Royals had a similar incident happen last June 15 at Tampa Bay when Rays pitcher Alex Cobb was struck in the ear by an Eric Hosmer line drive. Cobb recovered and was able to resume pitching exactly two months later.
"It was the same thing, but during the regular season, you've got to deal with it and continue the game. I'm glad we didn't have to do that tonight," Yost said. "I'm glad we could just agree that this wasn't productive for either team and go ahead and get off the field."
Umpire Chris Guccione, the crew chief, said the decision to leave the field was by mutual agreement of Yost and Reds manager Bryan Price.
"After Chapman was hit, really it was Ned and Bryan that kind of got together and we as a crew went over to them just to see what was going on," Guccione said. "It was just a mutual agreement between all of us -- players were rattled, the staff was rattled, the umpires were rattled so we felt it was best, with both teams in agreement, that the game should just end."
The final score was recorded as Royals 6, Reds 3.
Team spokesman Mike Swanson said the Royals players, including Perez, were indeed rattled and decided as a group not to discuss the accident.
What could Yost say to the distraught Perez?
"You can't really tell him don't feel bad about it, because we all feel bad about it. But it wasn't anything that he tried to do or meant to do. It was just something that happened," Yost said. "It wasn't a fun thing to watch or see but there's really not much you can say."
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.