New York Yankees reliever Aroldis Chapman has kept out of the public eye while serving his 30-game suspension after being accused of domestic violence. But as he prepares for an MLB return, he wants to make one thing clear: He’s innocent.   

“I didn’t do anything,” Chapman told Billy Witz of the New York Times. “People are thinking that it’s something serious; I have not put my hands on anyone, didn’t put anyone in danger. Since I didn’t do anything like that, I’m not thinking about it. If I didn’t do anything, why should I think about it? That is in the past. Now, I’m thinking about more important things: my family, kids, my career.”

Chapman, 28, was accused of choking his girlfriend and firing a gun during an October altercation. He was never charged with a crime in the case, but the news was enough to halt an agreed-upon deal to send the left-handed fireballer to the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Yankees swooped in three days after Christmas to land Chapman, risking public criticism in hopes of stabilizing the back half of their bullpen.

MLB later issued Chapman a 30-game suspension under its new domestic violence rules, under which a conviction is not necessary for a player to be punished. He maintains the alleged incident was just a run-of-the-mill argument, however.

“It was just an argument with your partner that everyone has,” he said. “I’ve even argued with my mother. When you are not in agreement with someone, we Latin people are loud when we argue.”

Chapman says the cultural differences between Latin players and United States citizens has led to some unfair targeting. 

“Unfortunately, that is the way it is,” Chapman said. “We make a lot of money, everyone wants a piece of it, and we end up looking bad. When I had the problem, everyone thinks I did something wrong; in social media, people are saying I hit my girlfriend.”

A four-time All-Star with the Cincinnati Reds, Chapman is expected to take over ninth-inning duties in New York. He posted 33 saves in 36 chances last season, compiling a 1.63 ERA and striking out 116 batters in 66.1 innings. Andrew Miller has converted all six of his saves so far for the Yankees in 2016, but they’re 11-17 thanks to one of the worst offenses in baseball.

“The toughest part was not being able to start the season with the team,” Chapman said. “Otherwise, I tried to remain positive and focused and no negative thoughts—just remained positive. I just accepted the suspension and waited.”

The biggest answer for Chapman may not come until the offseason. He is scheduled to hit free agency for the first time this winter, where he likely would have commanded one of the highest salaries for a reliever in MLB history. With his reputation altered by this situation—whether fair or not—it’ll be up to him to repair his value around the league once he returns.


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