NEW YORK – Cuban Aroldis Chapman was one of the major league’s most dominant closers for the first two and a half months of the season, leading to his All-Star selection as a representative of the American League. The Yankees closer claims to maintain that confidence despite his recent problems, with an ERA that went from 1.98 to 4.41 during a span of seven appearances.
“I’ve been through bad times throughout my career,” Chapman said. “That is normal when you play baseball. But right now, when you know that every win is worth so much, if you don’t do your job, you’re usually going to end up losing the game. That is the difficult part of this. It is probably the most difficult moment of my career, of course ”.
Chapman pitched a scoreless inning on Friday and another on Sunday against the Red Sox. Between the two games, he allowed no hits, walked and struck out two opponents. On Tuesday he pitched again and took the rescue against the Phillies, despite allowing a home run in an inning of labor in which he struck out three. The left-hander made 16 of his first 18 save chances before blowing two, on June 23 against the Royals and on July 4 against the Mets.
“The mindset has to be to get through that bad time and focus on the positive results of your daily work, your routine, your preparation,” Chapman continued. “So you get out of it. You keep working, until you get out of the downturn and get back to where you wanted ”.
Rays manager Kevin Cash did not use Chapman in the All-Star Game, which won the American League 5-2. Chapman and the Cash Rays have had their run-ins over the years, including last season, when Chapman threw a fastball that went near Mike Brosseau’s head. The fire extinguisher claims he agreed with the decision not to pitch in Denver.
“From the get-go, I had my doubts about shooting in the All-Star Game,” Chapman confessed. “Afterwards, I spoke to the manager and told him that I didn’t feel in a good position to participate and pitch. To be honest, one of the reasons I decided to go was my family. They were the ones who motivated me to do it ”.
While in Denver, Chapman took the opportunity to send a message to the Cuban people. Chapman wrote “SOS Cuba” and “Patria Y Vida” on his cap, along with the letters “NY” in the logo. The message was a reference to the protests of Cuban citizens on the island over the lack of food and electricity, in addition to deaths from COVID-19.
“A lot of people were watching from everywhere and I thought it was a good time to send a positive message to my Cuban compatriots,” Chapman explained.