TAMPA, Fla. — New Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman said Thursday morning that he will appeal any suspension handed down by Major League Baseball for his role in an alleged domestic-violence incident last October.
Chapman, addressing the media for the first time as pitchers and catchers reported to spring training, is being investigated by MLB under its domestic-abuse policy because of an alleged incident involving his girlfriend that occurred in Florida on Oct. 30.
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Asked if he plans to appeal a suspension, Chapman, through his translator, simply said: “Yes.”
Florida prosecutors determined there “was not enough evidence to get a conviction,” according to a TMZ report Jan. 21, but MLB is conducting its own investigation.
Chapman said Thursday morning that he has met with MLB investigators but declined to elaborate, either on what he said to them or the allegations.
“I understand that everybody is worried about the issue, I understand that everybody wants to know, but it’s something that’s out of my hands, and my main focus is to play baseball,” said Chapman, acquired from the Reds for four minor-leaguers in late December. “I feel great, I’m happy to be here and I can’t wait to get started.”
Yankees manager Joe Girardi called domestic violence “a sensitive issue” and “something we don’t condone,” but he said he will wait before drawing any conclusions regarding Chapman’s makeup.
“I want to get to know him before I form an opinion on his character,” Girardi said.
The manager, who said he discusses the issue of domestic violence with his three children — two daughters and a son — did not offer an opinion about whether Chapman should be suspended.
“Whether he’s suspended or not is not up to me,” Girardi said. “I don’t have all the information.”
There is information in a police report about the alleged incident, which Girardi said he hasn’t read but eventually will.
The report was first obtained by Yahoo Sports during December’s winter meetings when a Chapman deal between the Reds and Dodgers was scuttled. Allegations from the pitcher’s girlfriend included that he “choked” her during an argument and fired eight gunshots in the garage of his Miami-area home.
According to the report, police did not observe any “injuries or even redness anywhere on her neck or chest.” Chapman admitted firing the gun, with seven of the shots hitting a concrete wall and the other going through a window into a nearby field.
“I will read it, but to me the most important thing is getting to know him, more than the report,” Girardi said. “Because I’ve always felt to get the most out of a player and to really understand a player, you have to get to know them and get their heart. And I can’t do that from a police report.”
A day after the trade for Chapman on Dec. 28, New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito accused the Yankees of “condoning this kind of violence when you bring him on to be part of this team.”
Girardi said he knew there would be questions about the trade for Chapman. There have been and there will continue to be; 15 of the 29 he took Thursday during his kickoff news conference were about Chapman.
“But as I’ve said, people have never turned their back on me, no matter what,” Girardi said. “People have stuck their neck out for me when I was a kid and I went through difficult times and made mistakes. Never to the extent of a domestic-violence issue, but people were there for me, and I think it’s important that I’m there for him.”