New York Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman, who served 30-game suspension under Major League Baseball's new domestic violence policy, suggested during a recent interview with The New York Times that foreign-born Latin players' unfamiliarity with American culture and newfound celebrity and wealth can make them easy targets for people who may try to take advantage of them.
"Unfortunately, that is the way it is," Chapman told the Times, which published its report on the interview Saturday. "We make a lot of money, everyone wants a piece of it, and we end up looking bad."
Chapman rejoined the Yankees on Monday after being suspended for his alleged involvement in a domestic incident last October. The Cuban left-hander reiterated to the Times that he "didn't do anything," saying that he was only arguing with his girlfriend and that "Latin people are loud when we argue."
"When I had the problem, everyone thinks I did something wrong; in social media, people are saying I hit my girlfriend," he said.
Chapman, who did not appeal the suspension, is one of four players who have been investigated under baseball's domestic violence policy, which MLB and the players' union agreed to last August. Two of the players -- Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig and Atlanta Braves infielder Hector Olivera -- are Cuban while the other player, Colorado Rockies shortstop Jose Reyes, is from the Dominican Republic.
Chapman didn't make it clear in the piece if he meant Latin players are targets of baseball's domestic violence program, nor did he specifically identify who was out to harm Latin players, but he told ESPN's Marly Rivera later Sunday that he was "referring to things in general."
"Many of us Latin players arrive here in this country and we don't know much about how the legal system works here, and we can be easy targets for people to deceive us, defraud us, those kind of things," he said. "I feel we can be easy targets of being taken advantage of."
Chapman told ESPN he was not speaking specifically to notions of MLB domestic-violence investigations unfairly targeting Latino players or officials exclusively focusing questioning on players from Latin America.
"I was not talking about MLB, or anything regarding the suspension or the suspension of any Latinos under the new MLB policy," Chapman said when asked by ESPN to elaborate on his assertions to The Times. "It had nothing do with that. I was talking about what could happen to us on the street, wherever we are, to all of us Latinos who come from other countries, Cuba, Dominican Republic, anyone who does not know the system and doesn't have much knowledge about the US, there are many people who take advantage of that. We come from different countries and cultures. That's what I was talking about."
Chapman has lost 30 days of pay -- $1,856,557 of his $11.325 million salary -- during the suspension. Although he did not specify who he thinks is targeting Latin American players, Chapman made multiple references to people who "want to harm us."
"Sometimes people talk too much," he said. "We have to be careful about that. We are not from this country and people want to harm us. It's easier to hurt someone who is not from here than someone who is.
"People think we don't know what the laws are, and they try to hurt you. Many people want money. We have to take care of ourselves."
Major League Baseball, in response to an inquiry from the Times, released a statement to the newspaper regarding its stance on domestic violence.
"All personnel are held accountable for their conduct irrespective of where they were born," the statement said.
Acquired by the Yankees in January from the Cincinnati Reds in exchange for four minor leaguers, Chapman 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. He told police that he poked the woman on the shoulder and she fell to the ground. According to the police report, after family members broke up the altercation, Chapman said he went into his car, punched the passenger-side window and suffered a laceration on his finger. He also acknowledged firing eight shots from a handgun in his garage during the incident.
Citing a lack of sufficient evidence, conflicting stories and failure of witnesses to cooperate, the Davie (Florida) Police Department did not charge Chapman and said the investigation was closed pending any new evidence. However, the Broward State Attorney's office in Florida said that decision was based on a preliminary, informal phone conversation and it requested reports so it could review the matter further.
The state's attorney announced on Jan. 21 that no charges would be filed against Chapman.
When the suspension was announced March 1, Chapman said in a statement that he "did not in any way harm my girlfriend that evening." He maintained that stance in his interview with the Times.
"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."
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.