Aroldis Chapman apologizes for 'bad judgment' in using gun

ByWallace Matthews ESPN logo
Wednesday, March 2, 2016

TAMPA, Fla. -- New York Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman, suspended for 30 games Tuesday for his role in an alleged domestic violence incident, issued a partial apology Wednesday while continuing to maintain he did not hurt his girlfriend.

The Cuban-born lefty, acquired from the Cincinnati Reds in exchange for four minor leaguers, was investigated for an incident at his home on Oct. 30, when he is alleged to have choked his girlfriend, 22-year-old Cristina Barnea, after an argument at his home in Davie, Florida.

"I accepted the decision,'' Chapman said of the suspension Wednesday through an interpreter. "I have to take responsibility for it and basically move on.

"I want to take this opportunity -- I want this to be clear -- I'm apologizing because the use of the gun. It was bad judgment on my part. But I also want to say that I never hurt my girlfriend. I want this to be very clear. I'm taking this punishment because of my bad judgment. [It's] something that I definitely want to put behind me and move on."

Chapman's girlfriend alleged that he choked her after an argument over some text messages on his phone. Chapman then went out to a detached garage on his property and fired eight shots from a handgun, one of which flew through a window and into an open field, according to police reports.

Broward County prosecutors declined to press charges in the incident, citing inconsistent witness testimony and insufficient evidence. But Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred, using the broad powers afforded him under baseball's newly adopted domestic violence policy, suspended Chapman for the first 30 games of the season, commencing on Opening Day.

In the interim, Chapman will be allowed to take part in all spring training games and activities, and he will be allowed to continue training at the Yankees' minor league complex, where he will be able to pitch in extended spring training and simulated games.

Chapman, who had vowed repeatedly that he would appeal any suspension, said he had changed his stance after getting advice from his lawyer.

"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," Chapman said. "I want to put this behind me, move on, help this team win."

In Chapman's absence, Yankees manager Joe Girardi said Andrew Miller, who converted 36 of 37 save opportunities in 2015, would again serve as the team's closer. But it is expected that Chapman will be able to slide into the closer's role when he is eligible to return on May 9.

The suspension will cost Chapman about $1.8 million of the $11.325 million he was awarded in arbitration this year, but the loss of service time will not affect his free agency status in 2017, which Chapman said was a factor in his decision not to appeal.

"I learned a very important lesson here," he said. "You have to be able to make better judgment in certain situations. I think this is something that's going to help me mature, not only for me but for also my teammates, [who] can look at this and learn from this."

Girardi said he did not know when Chapman would begin to appear in Yankees spring training games.

"We might spread him out a little more," Girardi said. "You want to make sure he's strong when he gets to us and you can slow it down a little bit. You don't necessarily have to get a guy ready in six weeks. He's got more time now."

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