NEW YORK – Yankees reliever Aroldis Chapman has been ruled out for the American League Division Series after he skipped a mandatory workout, leading to a fine and likely ending the All-Star's seven-year tenure with New York.
The 34-year-old flamethrower probably would not have been on the 26-man roster for the best-of-five series against Cleveland that starts Tuesday night due to erratic performances and inconsistent mechanics.
Chapman, who has not gotten a save since May 17, had been scheduled to pitch batting practice Friday at Yankee Stadium but the team said he instead was in Miami. After speaking with Chapman, manager Aaron Boone told general manager Brian Cashman he instructed the pitcher to stay away from the club.
“I think he questioned whether he was going to be on the roster or not,” Boone said.
Chapman had disrupted an already depleted bullpen when he went on the injured list from Aug. 24 until Sept. 16 due to an infection in a leg caused by getting a tattoo.
“It’s unfortunate that he wasn’t here Friday,” Cashman said Sunday. “Clearly disappointing, but at the same time not surprised by how things are starting to play out over the course of the season. So it was surprising at first, like a little shocking, but then after the shock wore off, when you add everything up, it’s not surprising. There's some questions about whether he’s been all in or not for a little while, and he’s maintained verbally that he's in, but at times actions don't match those words.”
Cashman, who has worked for the Yankees since 1986, could not recall another player missing a workout. In October 2015, Mets pitcher Matt Harvey missed a workout three days before his team's Division Series opener.
Chapman's agent, Scott Shapiro, said he and his client had no comment. While the Yankees did not rule out Chapman for later rounds, they left the impression his return is unlikely.
In other news, Matt Carpenter likely will be on the roster as a pinch hitter/designated hitter after recovering from a broken left foot sustained Aug. 8. Outfielder Andrew Benintendi remains a long shot following surgery to repair a broken bone in his right wrist. Reliever Clay Holmes will be on the roster but might not be available for the opener as he returns from a Sept. 29 cortisone injection to treat inflammation in his right rotator cuff.
Infielder DJ LeMaheiu’s status had not been determined as he tries to overcome an inflamed right second toe that limited him to 18 plate appearances after Sept 4.
Gerrit Cole will start for the Yankees in Tuesday night’s opener, followed by Nestor Cortes in Game 2 and Luis Severino in Game 3. Boone is leaning toward a three-man rotation against the AL Central champion Guardians, who swept two games from Tampa Bay in the first round. Jameson Taillon and Domingo Germán will work out of the bullpen.
Chapman has 315 saves in 13 major league seasons with Cincinnati, the Chicago Cubs and Yankees, and he earned his seventh All-Star selection last year. But he has a 4.46 ERA this year and 28 walks in 36 1/3 innings.
Boone and Cashman wouldn't say whether Chapman had a chance to make the ALDS roster before the incident.
“When you’re used to being superhuman and then you deal with adversity, obviously, I think people deal with it differently. And this year was a struggle for him,” Cashman said. “This game's not easy, but you don’t need to make it harder by, again, not showing up at a mandatory workout, for yourself as you compete for postseason, as well as for your teammates who are in there right now fighting to be ready when called upon.”
New York's bullpen is missing right-handers Ron Marinaccio (sore right shin), Chad Green (Tommy John surgery) and Michael King (broken right elbow), and left-hander Zack Britton (left shoulder fatigue).
Left-hander Wandy Peralta has not pitched since Sept. 18 due to back tightness. Right-hander Scott Effross was out between Aug, 20 and Sept. 24 because of a strained right shoulder before making five late-season appearances; and right-hander Albert Abreu returned Wednesday from an inflamed right elbow that had sidelined him since Aug. 20.
“Thankfully, we've got some guys coming back from injuries,” Cashman said. “Certainly some of them pitched very little towards the end when they came back off their IL stints. But they’re healthy, and ultimately it’ll be an interesting roster discussion that we are to have soon.”
Holmes, who had 20 saves this season, is to throw batting practice Monday, and Boone said the Yankees will then evaluate his availability. Holmes threw Friday and said his velocity was about 95-96 mph.
“I felt a lot better,” he said. “There was nothing nagging in there. It felt free and easy.”
Carpenter hit 15 homers with 37 RBIs in 128 at-bats in his abbreviated time with the Yankees. He had about 10 at-bats during sessions last week in Somerset, New Jersey, and homered off Cortes during batting practice Saturday. He planned to work out at first base on Sunday and run the bases.
“I feel like I'm ready,” Carpenter said. “I feel like I can just have a competitive at-bat, which is key for my role.”
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