Chapman tweaks hamstring, says he'll be fine
Reds closer comes up limping while covering first base in All-Star Game
MINNEAPOLIS -- Injuries, or the concern about injuries, have been a frequent storyline surrounding the Reds all season -- much to their chagrin. On Tuesday night during the All-Star Game, the club was still not immune to the issue.
Reds closer Aroldis Chapman came up limping with a sore right hamstring after he covered first base on a groundout to end the bottom of the eighth inning in the National League's 5-3 loss to the American League.
"I'm not 100 percent ready to run full speed," Chapman said with D-backs catcher Miguel Montero translating. "I kind of hesitated a little bit and I just kind of took it easy to go to first."
Chapman first injured the hamstring July 6 in Cincinnati while in the outfield before a game against the Brewers. It hasn't affected any of the five regular-season games he pitched before the All-Star break as he worked five scoreless innings with one hit, one walk, four saves and 13 strikeouts out of 18 batters faced.
As for his status when the second half begins Friday against the Yankees in New York, Chapman was not concerned.
"I will be fine," Chapman said. "I've been pitching through it for a while. As long as I don't have to run, it feels good to pitch."
In the All-Star Game, Chapman replaced Tony Watson with one out in the bottom of the eighth and threw only five pitches -- four at 100 mph or more. Pitching for the first time at Target Field, fans groaned and applauded in appreciation when his first pitch to fellow Cuban Yoenis Cespedes registered 100 mph on the radar display. Cespedes, a fellow Cuban from the A's and the two-time Home Run Derby champion, grounded out to the shortstop.
Kyle Seger of the Mariners saw three pitches and hit a 102-mph fastball to the right side to Freddie Freeman, who tossed to Chapman. The Reds' closer wasn't concerned about the chances of running before the night began.
"It was the last thing that came to my mind," Chapman said. "If it happened, I knew I would have to cover the base. It did happen. Obviously, I didn't want to sprint out and blow my hamstring there. So I just took it easy and got there in enough time to get him out."
Reds catcher and fellow All-Star Devin Mesoraco was out of the game before Chapman entered and hadn't spoken to him. But he wasn't overly concerned.
"I highly anticipate that he's going to be fine, knock on wood," said Mesoraco, who went 0-for-1 with a strikeout in his Midsummer Classic debut. "We can't even catch a break at the darn All-Star Game without guys pulling up. But I have no idea."
The third All-Star experience had been an otherwise smooth affair for Chapman. There were no issues crossing paths with Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo, who sparked a bench-clearing incident Thursday by yelling at Chapman for throwing inside to a teammate.
"I don't have a problem. There is no problem," Chapman said of Rizzo before the game and noted that they shook hands.
"We said hello," Rizzo said. "I don't see why there would be anything else other than that. It's something where it was the fifth game in four days, and a hot day. I talked to all of them -- [Alfredo] Simon, [Johnny] Cueto, [and Todd] Frazier. I was pulling for Frazier in the Derby. They're great guys, they really are."
Chapman has a 2.12 ERA with 21 saves in 23 chances in his 29 appearances for Cincinnati. Over 29 2/3 innings, he struck out 60 batters with just 10 walks. He also set a Major League record among relievers with at least one strikeout in his last 41 games dating back to last season.
Despite the outcome of his appearance Tuesday, Chapman came away with positive thoughts about the time in Minneapolis.
"I fully enjoyed it. It was a beautiful experience," Chapman said. "I'll have to come more often."