Awaiting news of a possible suspension stemming from an offseason domestic abuse incident, New York Yankees’ reliever Aroldis Chapman could be banned from Spring Training, Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes.
Commissioner Rob Manfred told reporters, including Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer-Press, on Friday that he’s nearing a decision on two out of the three pending domestic abuse incidents in the MLB — the other two being Jose Reyes and Yasiel Puig. Whatever Chapman’s punishment is, it will set a precedent, as no player in MLB history has been suspended over a domestic incident.
“It’s something out of my hands,” Chapman said to the New Haven Register through a translator on Thursday. “It’s something I can’t really talk about. We’ve got to wait to see what happens.”
Once Manfred decides on a punishment, Chapman will appeal it. According to MLB’s domestic violence policy, a violator may be subject to suspension and/or a fine at the discretion of commissioner Manfred. Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News adds that a suspension could include a Spring Training ban but it is an unlikely conclusion.
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The soon-to-be 28-year-old Chapman is preparing for his first season in pinstripes after an offseason trade brought him to New York. The missile-throwing lefty threw 26 pitches at Yankees camp on Saturday, impressing both the higher-ups and catcher Brian McCann.
“It is exactly what you think,” McCann told the New York Post after catching Chapman for the first time. “That is why he is the only one in the league who can do that [throw 103 mph].”
While the heat from Chapman’s historically impressive fastball baffles hitters, news of a domestic dispute with his girlfriend baffled the MLB this offseason.
According to police reports obtained by Yahoo! Sports, Chapman fired eight gunshots in the garage of his Davie, Florida, home and was accused of choking and shoving his girlfriend on October 30, 2015. Also, Chapman’s girlfriend said that the dispute occurred after she found something on his cell phone. Chapman denied choking his girlfriend but admitted to unloading the gunshots in his garage.
The report mentioned that no arrests were made “due to conflicting stories and a lack of cooperation from all parties involved.”
A trade that would have sent Chapman from the Cincinnati Reds was put on hold on December 8, 2015, when the incident with his girlfriend was revealed. Just three weeks later, the Yankees swooped in and acquired Chapman in a five-player deal, sending four prospects to Cincinnati.
The Yankees were scrutinized by some for acquiring a talented, but troubled player in Chapman — utilizing his impending legal issues as a way of bringing down the Reds’ asking price. The nixed deal that would have sent Chapman to the Dodgers weeks earlier included several top prospects and other MLB ready players.
Preparing to enter a new environment with new teammates, fans, and authority, Chapman is looking to form a three-headed monster in the Yankees bullpen. Alongside Andrew Miller and Dellin Betances, Chapman is expected to be a one part of a triumvirate of shut-down relievers.
Last season was arguably Chapman’s best as he pitched to a 1.63 ERA and notched 33 saves through 65 games, making his fourth All-Star team. He also struck out 116 batters in 66-and-one-third innings. The offseason incident doesn’t figure to impact his talent.
He’s also being given the chance to prove himself as a person before judgment is passed. Yankees’ manager Joe Girardi told reporters this week that his main objective is learning what Chapman’s character really is like more so than what the police report says.
“The most important thing is me getting to know him more than the report. I know it’s very serious and we’ll take it very serious. I want to get to know him before I really form an opinion of his character.”
[Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images]