CINCINNATI -- Progress toward a return to pitching for the Reds has become more tangible of late for closer Aroldis Chapman, although there is no definitive timetable.
Chapman threw from flat ground at Great American Ball Park during Thursday's off-day, and he's scheduled to have his first bullpen session on Monday.
"I felt really well [Thursday]. I felt normal," Chapman said via translator Tomas Vera. "I've been throwing the last four or five days already, and I feel really good every day."
Chapman, who suffered fractures above his left eye and nose when he was struck in the face by a line drive on March 19, has continued to amaze his teammates by his speedy recovery since the frightening incident.
Perhaps no one is more astonished than Reds catcher Brayan Pena, who witnessed the injury firsthand vs. the Royals. Pena caught Chapman's throwing session on Thursday.
"I'm speechless, to be honest with you," Pena said. "He was probably throwing 97 or 96 mph on flat ground. I was impressed. After that, we ran three-quarter poles. He was very fresh and strong. It was great. I never expected him to be this advanced.
"Everybody saw what happened to him. The fact that he's throwing baseballs already and at such a high velocity was very impressive."
Chapman, who was expected to be out four to six weeks following his operation, had the surgical staples removed from his head a week ago, and the swelling in his face has largely subsided. He says he can still feel some swelling under his left eyebrow, which is the location of the metal plate that was inserted to stabilize his fracture.
As Chapman nears a return to a mound, there is concern about how he might be mentally affected when facing hitters for the first time.
"Everybody asks me that question," Chapman said. "I know me and I know that I don't think I'm going to have any issue with that. I've thought about the way that I feel and the way that I am. I don't think this is going to affect me."
Pena tried testing Chapman when the two were playing catch.
"I don't throw that hard," Pena said. "I threw something back a little bit harder to him to see his reaction, and it was like playing catch with my son. He said, 'That's all you've got?'"
The Reds would like to keep progressing cautiously with Chapman, and not rush him back.
"We really don't want to put him in harm's way, so everything we do right now is fairly exclusive," manager Bryan Price said.
Latos has setback in rehab after throwing
CINCINNATI -- Reds pitcher Mat Latos tested his right elbow during a bullpen session on Friday. Judging by the way Latos returned to the clubhouse, it did not go well. He declined to speak to reporters after throwing.
There was still soreness in Latos' elbow during the session. It was the same reason his planned rehab start for Triple-A Louisville was scratched on Tuesday.
"He didn't feel as good as we hoped he would feel," manager Bryan Price said. "We'll see how he is tomorrow. We hoped he wouldn't have any soreness at all. We will give him a couple of more days and reassess."
Latos had elbow surgery in October to remove bone chips and left knee surgery on Feb. 14 to repair torn meniscus cartilage his left knee. He made three Minor League starts in Spring Training and one rehab start for Double-A Pensacola.
Team medical director Dr. Tim Kremchek is slated to examine Latos again before the club decides the next course of action.
Price fondly recalls playing for Maddon
CINCINNATI -- When the Reds opened their three-game series vs. the Rays on Friday, it was an opportunity for manager Bryan Price to work opposite one of his former skippers in Rays manager Joe Maddon.
Price was a Minor League pitcher in the Angels' organization, and he was on Maddon's team at Double-A Midland in parts of the 1985-86 seasons.
"It was great. My first full season of professional baseball, I started in Midland playing for Joe," Price recalled. "And I got absolutely obliterated in the Texas League and worked my way back to the California League. I don't think his memories of me are as good as mine were of him. Unfortunately, it was usually seeing him around the third or fourth inning, when it was his second and last visit to the mound to come get me. I didn't pitch terribly well that first year for Joe.
"Joe is a wonderful guy to play for, and a terrific person. He's very similar now to what I remember playing 30 years ago."