Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman’s suspension — stemming from a Sept. 1 incident against the Rays — has been reduced from three games to two after a hearing, Major League Baseball announced Thursday.
That means he will miss Opening Day against the Blue Jays at Yankee Stadium on April 1 and the second game of the season April 3 against Toronto.
The appeal was heard by special assistant to the commissioner John McHale Jr.
Chapman was punished after "intentionally throwing a pitch at the head area" of Tampa Bay’s Mike Brosseau, as Major League Baseball phrased it when it announced the initial suspension on Sept. 2.
Chapman appealed his punishment, but his appeal was not heard until recently, so he was allowed to pitch for the rest of the regular season and the playoffs.
Chapman's 101-mph pitch led to some benches-clearing excitement immediately after the game, as well as Rays manager Kevin Cash’s famous thinly veiled threat that he had "a whole damn stable full of guys that throw 98 mph, period."
Cash and Yankees manager Aaron Boone served their related one-game suspensions on Sept. 2.
"There was never any intention to hit anybody," Chapman said at the time through an interpreter. "There’s a lot of back and forth, teams competing for first place. There’s a lot of tenacity between the teams, but it’s understandable when you’re in a race."
Brosseau exacted revenge far greater than a league-imposed timeout in the postseason. His go-ahead homer off Chapman in the bottom of the eighth inning in Game 5 of the ALDS ended the Yankees’ season.
That was the latest chapter in what has been a heated rivalry of late. The next chapter begins April 9, about a week after Chapman serves his suspension, when the Yankees visit the Rays for their home opener.