Aroldis Chapman says Joe Maddon Misused Him during Cubs Championship Run
Fresh off winning his first World Series title with the Cubs last season, fireball pitcher Aroldis Chapman signed a five-year, $86 million contract to return to the New York Yankees club that dealt him at the trade deadline to Chicago.
He made it clear, during a recent conference call, that he was not at all particularly fond of the unpredictability of Cubs manager Joe Maddon, or the way he was used.
“Personally I don’t agree with the way he used me,” Chapman told reporters on the call officially announcing his new deal with the Yankees. “But he is the manager and he had the strategy, you know?”
Chapman was most bothered by the amount of time he spent in the game during Game 6 of the World Series, where he was marched back out to the hill in the ninth inning while Chicago had a 9-2 lead. Just two nights earlier, he had thrown 42 pitches in an eight-out save performance in Game 5. When Chapman was summoned into Game 7, the wear and tear was obvious, most visibly in the loss of velocity in his fastball. He allowed a tying home run to the Indians’ Rajai Davis before the Cubs won in 10 innings.
“The important game was going to be Game 7,” he said. “We had that game almost won. And the next day I came in and I was tired.”
Chapman has developed a reputation for being a shut-down closer in Major League Baseball — last season, pitching for both the Yankees and Cubs during the regular season, the 28-year-old relinquished just three leads. His fatigue rushed to the frontline during the postseason, blew three saves on top of the torturous Game 7 failure. Chapman gave up a tying two-run triple to San Francisco’s Conor Gillaspie in Game 3 of a National League division series and allowed a tying two-run single to the Dodgers’ Adrian Gonzalez in the National League Championship Series opener.
When he arrived in Chicago at the trade deadline, the Cuban told Cubs manager Joe Maddon that he preferred to only be used in ninth-inning situations. But he also told Maddon he would pitch whenever the manager wanted. They largely stuck to that plan — until the postseason.
“I never told him my opinion about the way he was using me because the way I feel is that, as baseball players, we’re warriors,” Chapman said, referring to the postseason. “Our job is to do what we need to do on the field. But if they send me out there to pitch, I’m going to go out there and pitch. If I’m healthy, I’m going to go out there and pitch. If I’m tired, I’m going to put that aside and just get through it.”
He also said that Miami, where he makes his home, made a strong offer to sign him to a long-term deal this offseason but that he was concerned that Jeffrey Loria, the Marlins’ owner, had a history of conducting fire sales.
“Sometimes they change their team a lot, and I wanted to have a stable team of young players where I could feel at home,” he said.
Chapman also said he appreciated how the Yankees organization treated him after acquiring him last December while he was marred with a domestic violence investigation. He said he was still undergoing counseling, as mandated by baseball’s domestic violence policy, and understood that some fans in New York were not necessarily happy that the team had re-signed him.
“Nobody’s perfect,” Chapman said. “We make mistakes, but the important thing is we learn from them and move forward.”