Chapman: 'Toughest moment in my career'

July 18th, 2021

NEW YORK -- was among the game’s most dominant closers through the season’s first 2 1/2 months, prompting his selection as an American League All-Star. The Yankees closer said that he remains confident despite his recent struggles, having seen his ERA inflate from 1.98 to 4.40 over a span of five appearances.

“I’ve gone through rough patches throughout my career,” Chapman said through an interpreter on Sunday. “It’s expected when you play this game. But right now, when you know that every win counts so much -- if you don’t do your job, you’re usually going to end up losing the game. That’s the very difficult part of it. It’s probably the toughest moment in my career, for sure.”

Chapman tossed a scoreless inning in Friday’s 4-0 loss to the Red Sox, working around a walk and a throwing error. The left-hander converted 16 of his first 18 save opportunities before blowing chances on June 23 against the Royals and July 4 against the Mets.

“It’s a mindset where you’ve got to get over the hump and find the positive results out of your daily work, your routine, your preparation,” Chapman said. “That’s how you get out of it. You keep working at it. Eventually you come out of it and you’re back where you want to be.”

Rays manager Kevin Cash did not use Chapman in the All-Star Game, won by the AL, 5-2. Chapman and Cash’s Rays have had run-ins over the years, including Chapman buzzing Tampa Bay’s Mike Brosseau with a fastball last season, and Chapman said that he was on board with watching the exhibition from the bullpen.

“From the start, I was having doubts about pitching in the All-Star Game,” Chapman said. “I eventually spoke to the manager and told him that I didn’t feel in really good position to participate and pitch. To be honest, one of the reasons why I decided to attend the festivities was because of my family. They pushed me to do so.”

While in Denver, Chapman embraced the opportunity to send a message to communities in his native Cuba. Chapman made a statement with his cap, writing “SOS Cuba” and “Patria Y Vida” (“Homeland and Life”) alongside the interlocking "NY" logo. The message refers to the unrest of Cuban citizens amid a food and power shortage and increases in deaths from COVID-19.

“A lot of people were watching everywhere and I felt it was a good opportunity to send out a positive message to my fellow Cubans,” Chapman said.

Swinging away

Greg Allen played his three seasons of college ball at San Diego State, where he absorbed baseball knowledge from the late, great Tony Gwynn. The outfielder is embracing an opportunity to show what he can do on the New York stage, having notched hits in his first two games as a Yankee.

“It's very exciting,” Allen said. “Any chance you have to be able to compete at the big league level, you definitely don’t take it for granted. Obviously, the situation that I’ve been brought up with isn't ideal; you definitely don't wish it on anyone. But you can only control the things that we can control.”

The switch-hitting Allen, 28, played in 220 games for the Indians from 2017-20 and also appeared last season with the Padres. The Yankees’ outfield is short-handed with Clint Frazier, Aaron Hicks, Aaron Judge and Tim Locastro all on the injured list, and Allen said he sees a chance to make an impact.

“It’s a talented group that we have here across the board, guys with a variety of skill sets,” Allen said. “Just looking at my own personal skill set, anything I can do to get on base -- increased traffic, playing good defense, just find ways to score runs. That's the name of the game.”

You’re outta here

Major League Baseball has issued a lifetime ban to the fan who threw a baseball at Red Sox left fielder Alex Verdugo during the sixth inning of Saturday’s 3-1 Yankees victory, according to a Yankees spokesperson.

“While the Yankees appreciate the spirit and passion of our fans in our various rivalries -- especially with the Red Sox – reckless, disorderly and dangerous behavior that puts the safety of players, field staff or fellow fans in jeopardy will not be tolerated,” the team said in a statement.

“There is absolutely no place for it at Yankee Stadium. The safety of everyone at Yankee Stadium, including guests in the stands and players on the field, will always be the top priority for the Yankees organization every time we open our doors.“

This date in Yankees history

July 18, 1999: David Cone tossed the third perfect game in Yankees history, hurling the gem in a 6-0 victory over the Expos at Yankee Stadium. The game took place on "Yogi Berra Appreciation Day," with Don Larsen -- the only man to pitch a perfect game in the World Series -- on hand to toss a ceremonial first pitch.