BRIDGEWATER, N.J. — In his first rehab game in Double-A Somerset, Aroldis Chapman threw one inning and allowed one hit as the New York Yankees reliever worked his way back from left Achilles tendinitis.
Chapman came into the game in the top of the seventh inning and faced the top of the Hartford Yard Goats’ order. The reliever hit 99 mph on the speed gun at one point during the brief outing.
“He looked great, felt great,” Somerset Patriots manager Dan Fiorito said about Chapman’s appearance. “It was just awesome to see him out there healthy again and competing. He did a great job. You could just see the life had on his fastball. How he was getting their hitters and he’s Aroldis Chapman, he’s awesome.”
Chapman is scheduled to be with the Somerset Patriots from Friday through Sunday. While Fiorito wouldn’t confirm it, the belief is that he will pitch again on Sunday in the series finale with Hartford.
The Yankees reliever did not address the media after Friday night’s game.
Chapman struck out Daniel Montano on four pitches and after giving up a double to Ezequiel Tovar, he managed to get the Hartford shortstop out in a rundown between second and third. The veteran big leaguer ended the inning by getting Jimmy Herro to ground out to first base.
“I felt confident. He seemed healthy,” Fiorito said when asked about the lefty joining in the rundown. “Just seen him go about his throwing program today and he looks great. Fortunately, just some baseball savvy there and was able to get the pick-off to help get him out of that jam. He looked great.”
The 34-year-old has been dealing with an Achilles injury that has sidelined him since May 24. The absence of the Yankees closer has allowed Clay Holmes to emerge as one of baseball’s most dominant relievers and quickly take the mantle of closer.
Chapman had been 9-for-9 in save opportunities this year, but he has had a career-worst ERA of 3.86 in 17 appearances. Yankees skipper Aaron Boone hasn’t said exactly said where Chapman will be placed once he returns to the Yankees bullpen.
As for Holmes, Boone was also short when it came to his role after Chapman’s return.
“He’s the best reliever in the league. So he’s going to hopefully continue to be that,” Boone said on Thursday when asked about it.
His appearance and Friday night added an extra buzz among the 6,505 fans in attendance at TD Bank Ballpark. Fans rushed to the railing overlooking the right-field bullpen when he began to warm up in the sixth inning.
“Just to see all the fans that came out,” Fiorito said. “He’s a generational player. Just to have the support out there and see the buzz around the crowd was really cool.”
For more coverage of the New York Yankees, head to amNY.com.
Chapman became the 12th Yankees player to rehab in Somerset since the team became affiliated with the Bombers. He was also the first player to do so this season.
The Patriots face the Yard Goats two more times, once at 7:05 p.m. on Saturday and again on Sunday at 1:05 p.m.