Reds' Aroldis Chapman uses Instagram video to update, thank fans

On the same day they watched their favorite team's beleaguered bullpen self-destruct, Reds fans received a surprising treat on social media from their injured closer.

Aroldis Chapman posted a video on Instagram showing him playing long toss in the outfield at Great American Ball Park. It looked like he was throwing pretty hard, too.


The video is one of several workout-related images posted to his personal account, "_thecubanmissile54 ," over the past few days.

Reds manager Bryan Price told reporters Saturday morning his star relief pitcher is "re-initiating some light workouts." Although his baseball activities remain limited, "He is starting to move around a little bit more. It's great."

The posts are a welcomed sight for fans who haven't seen Chapman on the field since a frightful Spring Training incident in mid-March.

Chapman suffered multiple fractures to his face March 19 when one of his famed 99-mph fastballs was lined back at him by Royals catcher Salvador Perez.

The ball caught him square in the side of the head, and the image of him collapsing to the ground, kicking his feet as he covered his face with his glove hit baseball fans in the collective heart.

Video of the incident went viral and prayers for the 26-year-old Cuban came in from across the globe.

Surgeons managed to stabilize the damage to Chapman's eye area and nose by inserting a titanium plate but his road to recovery isn't a short trip.

While Chapman "absolutely" will pitch this season, it's going to be a few more weeks before that happens. Immediately following the accident, Dr. Tim Kremchek said he expected Chapman to miss six to eight weeks.

For Reds fans the wait already feels much longer than that but Chapman has done his part to keep them up-to-date.

Throughout the healing process, the social-media savvy left-hander continues to update his progress via Facebook and Instagram through a series of posts and photos, showing off his famous smile, trademark pointed index finger and two black eyes.

Not long after his reconstructive surgery last month, Chapman posted gruesome photo of his swollen face and the top of his head that was held together by a myriad of stitches and staples. The image equally grossed out and titillated tens of thousands of Web surfers.

Appearing in good spirits in several other photos he posted, some of which show him spending time with his family and friends, Chapman opened up to fans about his physical obstacles and his personal life via the Internet.

In Saturday's update to Instagram, the oft-flashy All-Star showed his softer side by leaving a message of gratitude (in English and Spanish) to Reds fans who've showed him continuous support over the past two weeks. He let them know he's "feeling great and everything is ok."

"I wanna tell my friends and followers in Instagram that are worry about my health that see my videos and photos of me coming back and training. That it was the doctors and training staff of the reds that took the decision that I could start training again. I'm telling you guys this because I have seen a lot of comments ( to take it easy) and I want you guys to know how everything is going in my recovery. I'm feeling great and everything is ok. Love you guys."

It gathered two dozen comments and more than 3,200 "likes" in just the first few hours after Chapman posted it.

"Good to see you back and training again @_t hecubanmissile54 #chapmanswag," wrote user "ctp_0620."

"Dsangel3" commented that it was, "Good to see you on the field, even on the flat, throwing!! :)."

"Orlando0187" wrote: "Gracias a dios @_thecubanmissile54 que alegría verte de regreso en el campo. Los milagros existen," praising a higher power for the miracle that is seeing Chapman doing what he loves once more.

Among the "get well soons" were a handful of messages peppered with desperation to see Chapman back on the mound during an actual game.

Instagram user "jaspertyler" hoped to prod along Chapman's recovery with a subtle nudge, telling him to "Get healthy quick!"

Poster "whoshur1965" was far more direct, expressing the fans' "need" to see Chapman in his No. 54 jersey as soon as possible.

"Hurry back missile, we need you!!!!," he wrote.

Saturday's performance by fill-in closer J.J. Hoover will likely inspire several more of those.

After Brandon Phillips gave the Reds a 3-2 lead with a two-run homer in the eighth, Hoover imploded in the bottom of the ninth, allowing the first three batters to reach base before surrendering a walk-off grand slam to pinch-hitter Ike Davis.

The 6-3 loss was the Reds' third straight, dropping their record to 1-4 on the young season. It's the team's worst start since 2003, their first year in Great American Ball Park.

Relief pitcher Jonathan Broxton is expected to be used in the closer role when he comes off the disabled list on Tuesday. But after arm surgery in late August, a mediocre 2013 campaign (4.11 ERA in 30 2/3 innings) and only two innings pitched in Double-A

games this season, he's anything but a sure thing.

Chapman is working out with the team and currently on the 15-DL.

But the actual timetable for his return rests solely on the readiness of his left arm and any possible trepidation he has about staring down a batter after his on-field nightmare. Although, most reports suggest Chapman is mentally ready to get back to work.

The team did express some confidence in an early-season return by declining to place him on the 60-day DL.

So, two weeks? Four weeks? Six weeks? How long it takes Chapman to be activated is still anyone's guess.

But it's a safe bet to assume when the organization makes the decision Chapman will find his own unique way to keep fans in the loop.

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