Among the hardest throwers in the game, 26-year-old Cuban Aroldis Chapman continues to develop into one of the most consistent relievers in Major League Baseball. Coming off a strong 2013 campaign in which he posted a 2.54 ERA over 63.2 innings while collecting 38 saves, the flame throwing rightly was looking forward to helping the Cincinnati Reds reach the postseason for the fourth time in five seasons. After suffering a stomach-turning injury in a recent Spring Training game however, Chapman’s 2014 season could experience a late start.

Struck in the head with a line drive off the bat of catcher Salvador Perez in Wednesday night’s contest against the Kansas City Royals, Chapman laid on the mound for 11 minutes before being carted off the field and transported to the hospital via ambulance. Kept overnight so doctors could keep close watch on him, Chapman was diagnosed with facial fractures above his left eye and nose but never lost consciousness as he was taken off the playing surface. Shocked by the occurrence, although it’s not the first time baseball has seen this sort of accident, Reds manager Bryan Price said that Chapman was talking on his way out of the stadium but did appear to be frazzled by the play.

“I know this isn’t uncommon as we would like it to be, but it was frightening, certainly frightening,” the first-year manager said. “Not good. He left the field on a stretcher, took a line drive just above his left eye is what it looks like -- a contusion, a laceration, and certainly needs to be taken to the hospital and checked. We've got Tomas Vera, an assistant trainer, is going to be with him. He never lost consciousness. He was able to communicate, he was able to move his hands, his feet, and legs. I'm not a doctor, so I don't want to go much further than that. It got him pretty flush pretty much just above the left eye, it looked like.”

Upon the exit of Chapman, the game between Cincinnati and Kansas City was brought to an abrupt ending in the sixth inning. Salvador Perez -- who ripped into Chapman’s 99mph fastball and sent it screaming back toward the mound -- was visibly shaken up but immediately went over to the mound to check on Chapman, who instantaneously hit the ground following the blow.

Cincinnati opens their season on Monday, March 31 against the St. Louis Cardinals while the Royals begin their 2014 campaign the same day, set to square off against the Detroit Tigers.

WATCH Aroldis Chapman Get Drilled By Line Drive