CLEVELAND — Aroldis Chapman called the decision a tough one, but the right one for him and the Yankees.
Chapman, who is 25-for-26 in saves this season, informed the Yankees and Major League Baseball on Friday that he will not be available to pitch in Tuesday’s All-Star Game in Washington. Astros righthander Charlie Morton replaced him on the American League roster, MLB announced.
Chapman has been dealing with tendinitis in his left knee for much of the season, an ailment that hasn’t caused his performance to dip in the least and one that won’t keep the five-time All-Star from closing this weekend should he be needed against the Indians.
“The thing here is I’m trying to put together a couple days where I don’t do any baseball activities and just let the knee get better,” Chapman said Friday afternoon through his translator. “There’s a possibility of seven days where I don’t do any baseball activities and I would just like to take the rest and get ready for the second half of the season.”
The seven days was a reference to the possibility that he wouldn’t be needed Friday, Saturday or Sunday of this series. The Yankees, 3½ games behind the AL East-leading Red Sox going into Friday, will resume the second half next Friday at home against the Mets.
Chapman, who has a 1.38 ERA and has struck out 67 in 39 innings, earned his 25th save with a perfect ninth Thursday that closed out a 7-4 victory.
He said taking himself out of the All-Star Game was “definitely my decision” and one that had nothing to do with how he felt after Thursday’s game.
“No, not at all,” he said. “I felt really good last night pitching. The discomfort is about the same [as it has been]. It’s improving little by little, which is good.”
Chapman was removed after one-third of an inning in his previous outing before Thursday night, last Saturday in Toronto.
“From the last time that I pitched until yesterday, I’ve been feeling better gradually and today I feel pretty good,” Chapman said.
Aaron Boone, who said he wouldn’t hesitate to call on Chapman the rest of this series, was fine with his decision.
“Hopefully he can benefit from that a little bit,” Boone said. “To have four or five days potentially off certainly can’t hurt him. Obviously this is something he’s been dealing with for a while, but [something] that we also feel good about that he can continue to deal with and something he’ll continue to maintain throughout the season and something that we’ll continue to monitor all the time. But hopefully it’s a good decision for him and for us.”
Chapman, who will travel to Washington to enjoy the non-game aspects of the event, reiterated that his decision “definitely” was a difficult one. Ultimately, however, there is a bigger picture involved — the fight for a division title in the season’s second half.
“It’s an honor to be selected to an All-Star Game,” he said. “Your peers vote for you, managers, fans and all of that. Any time you have an opportunity like that, you want to participate. But at the end of the day, I think it was the smart decision for me to help me recover and get ready for the second half, one that’s going to be very demanding and very exciting. To me, it was the right decision to take this time to rest and get ready for what we have coming up.”