TAMPA, Fla. — Aroldis Chapman admitted Wednesday he used “bad judgment” the night last October when police were called to his Miami-area home, but twice said he wanted to “make clear” something else about the alleged domestic violence incident that resulted in a 30-game suspension by MLB.
“I’m apologizing because the use of the gun, it was bad judgment on my part,” Chapman said through his translator. “But I also want to say that I never hurt my girlfriend [physically]. I want this to be very clear. I’m taking this punishment because of my bad judgment, something that I definitely want to put behind me and move on.”
Chapman accepted the punishment handed down late Tuesday afternoon by commissioner Rob Manfred, choosing not to appeal, something the closer had said he intended to do.
The 28-year-old Cuban, whose suspension begins at the start of the regular season, said he changed his mind on the advice of his attorney. “I sat down and really thought about it and I believe this is the best decision for me, for my family and for my teammates,” said Chapman, who will lose about $2 million of salary.
But beyond those generalities, there was another motivation for declining to appeal. Chapman will be a free agent after the season, and a suspension much longer than the one he accepted would have cost him service time, keeping him under the Yankees’ control for 2017. That “was definitely a factor,” he said.
General manager Brian Cashman said the club did not advise Chapman one way or the other. “No, it’s not our place. We were not involved in the process,” Cashman said. “We supported the commissioner and trust in his abilities to do what’s best for our sport, and that resolution took place clearly yesterday and was a tremendous result for the sport.”
Joe Girardi said Andrew Miller, last year’s closer, would fill that role in Chapman’s absence. Dellin Betances, Miller’s setup man last season, likely will set up again. They were a significant reason the Yankees had one of baseball’s best bullpens in 2015, when they were 73-2 when leading after seven innings. Girardi said Chapman will take over as closer when he is eligible to return May 9.
The manager said he will support Chapman, but also that actions have consequences.
“I think it puts a focus on the importance of dealing with situations the right way, which I think is extremely important in our society, not just in the world of sports,” Girardi said. “It’s important in society that domestic violence is not accepted. We’ve always been taught that there are consequences for your actions, and I think it’s good that we follow through with that.”
The police report from the Oct. 30 incident included allegations that Chapman “choked” his girlfriend during an argument and fired eight gunshots in the garage of his home. The report, obtained by Yahoo Sports in December, also said police did not observe any “injuries or even redness anywhere on her neck or chest.”
Chapman admitted firing the gun, with seven shots hitting a concrete wall and the other going through a window into a nearby field.
“I think the lesson is very clear to everybody,” Chapman said. “You have to be able to make better judgments in certain situations. At the same time, I want to take this opportunity to put this behind me. I really don’t want to keep talking about this, creating a distraction not only for me, for my family and teammates. I think this is the last time I want to talk about this topic. I want to concentrate on baseball, which is the best thing I know how to do and help this team win a championship.”