CLEVELAND — Aroldis Chapman officially returned to the Yankees from the injured list Friday and restated what he said several times previously:
Though he’s been a closer almost the entirety of his 13 years in the big leagues, reclaiming that role is not on his mind.
“The most important thing is to have the opportunity to help the team in any way possible,” Chapman said through his interpreter. “We’re all pushing to get victories. That’s the focus and that’s the most important thing. We’re all trying in different ways to accomplish that. Each of us has a task and a job to do. That’s what I need to do.”
Chapman, on the IL since May 24 with left Achilles tendinitis, had not had a standout season before the injury. The lefthander, though 9-for-9 in save chances, was 0-2 with a 3.86 ERA in 17 appearances and had been scored on in five straight outings before the IL stint.
Clay Holmes, meanwhile, has thrived all season, especially in the closer’s role. Holmes has a 0.54 ERA in 35 games and went a franchise-record 29 straight outings without allowing a run.
Given Chapman’s inconsistency coupled with Holmes’ brilliance, there was never a chance the former automatically was going to be put back in the closer’s role, regardless of some of the hedges made by manager Aaron Boone.
That’s something Chapman himself indicated should not happen.
“I am here, trying to recover, come back, be well, healthy and help the team in any way, in any role,” he said on June 21 in Tampa after throwing a live batting-practice session as part of his rehab. “[Holmes] is doing an excellent job right now and I think he deserves the role that he has.”