New York Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman agreed to a 30-game suspension from the Major League Baseball (MLB) commissioner after being accused of domestic violence.
This suspension is the first under a new policy the MLB adopted in August. The policy was adopted after several high-profile cases of domestic abuse in the National Football League (NFL), and this suspension is a clear signal that baseball is serious about enforcing it.
"I want to be clear, I did not in any way harm my girlfriend that evening," Mr. Chapman said in a statement, according to The Associated Press. "However, I should have exercised better judgment with respect to certain actions, and for that I am sorry."
Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred accepted it, saying he was "gratified" Chapman had taken responsibility. The player has not been charged with a crime for the October incident, in which his girlfriend has said he choked her and he acknowledged he fired a handgun eight times in his garage, due to conflicting evidence. But the MLB decision to suspend him anyway reflects how seriously it is enforcing the new policy.
“Manfred, being a new commissioner, was going to have to set a precedent,’’ veteran Cincinnati Reds outfielder Jay Bruce, Chapman’s former teammate, told USA TODAY Sports. “The league had to send a message that there’s no room for domestic violence in the game, let alone the world. The league cannot get a reputation of handling things like that lightly.’’
Chapman's decision not to appeal the suspension (although he reportedly negotiated it down from 40 games), and the player's union decision to support the suspension indicate that the MLB is following up on their strong words in the policy against domestic violence.
"Chapman instead will be remembered as the first baseball player to be suspended for a domestic violence incident, and accepting his punishment – albeit quite clumsily, with a statement that infuriated a victims’ advocacy group," Bob Nightengale wrote for USA Today.
Ruth Glenn, executive director of the National Coalition against Domestic Violence, applauded Manfred’s stand from her Denver office, but was disgusted by Chapman’s statement saying he did not harm his girlfriend.
“I find that very disturbing,’’ Glenn told USA TODAY Sports. “What is he referring to? The fact he didn’t shoot her? Any time a gun is involved, and there’s a domestic violence report, harm has been done to somebody.
“When a gun is involved, that is intimidation. I find it upsetting that Mr. Chapman is not taking any responsibility for really bad behavior.
The MLB is investigating two other cases under the new policy. The Los Angeles Dodgers' Yasiel Puig has been investigated for a night club altercation with his sister, but a suspension is not expected, ESPN reported.
Jose Reyes of the Colorado Rockies was placed on paid leave last week over an incident involving his wife in October. His case awaits a trial in April, although USA Today speculated the MLB will suspend him for 80 games, based on its ruling in Chapman's case.
This report contains material from The Associated Press.