By Zach Gewelb
Major League Baseball announced that New York Mets All-Star closer Jeurys Familia will be suspended for 15 games for violating the league’s domestic violence policy.
Familia was arrested in November on a domestic abuse charge in Fort Lee, N.J. Police responded to a call about a dispute in October and Familia’s wife was found with a scratch on her chest and a bruise on her cheek.
Charges were eventually dismissed due to lack of evidence for the prosecutor to proceed.
Familia released a statement Wednesday afternoon after news of the suspension broke.
“Today, I accepted a 15-game suspension from Major League Baseball resulting from my inappropriate behavior on Oct. 31, 2016. With all that has been written and discussed regarding this matter, it is important that it be known that I never physically touched, harmed or threatened my wife that evening. I did, however, act in an unacceptable manner and am terribly disappointed in myself. I am alone to blame for the problems of that evening.
“My wife and I cooperated fully with Major League Baseball’s investigation, and I’ve taken meaningful steps to assure that nothing like this will ever happen again. I have learned from this experience and have grown as a husband, a father, and a man. I apologize to the Mets’ organization, my teammates, and all my fans. I look forward to rejoining the Mets and being part of another World Series run. Out of respect for my teammates and my family, I will have no further comment.”
Commissioner Rob Manfred also released a statement regarding the suspension and the league’s investigation.
“My office has completed its investigation into the events leading up to Jeurys Familia’s arrest on Oct. 31, 2016. Mr. Familia and his wife cooperated fully throughout the investigation, including submitting to in-person interviews with MLB’s Department of Investigations. My office also received cooperation from the Fort Lee Municipal Prosecutor. The evidence reviewed by my office does not support a determination that Mr. Familia physically assaulted his wife, or threatened her or others with physical force or harm, on Oct. 31, 2016. Nevertheless, I have concluded that Mr. Familia’s overall conduct that night was inappropriate, violated the Policy, and warrants discipline.
“It is clear that Mr. Familia regrets what transpired that night and takes full responsibility for his actions. Mr. Familia already has undergone 12 90-minute counseling sessions with an approved counselor specializing in the area of domestic violence, and received a favorable evaluation from the counselor regarding his willingness to take concrete steps to ensure that he is not involved in another incident of this type. Further, he has agreed to speak to other players about what he has learned through this process and to donate time and money to local organizations aimed at the prevention of, and the treatment of victims of, domestic violence.”
Under MLB’s domestic violence policy, the Commissioner’s Office can investigate any allegations of domestic violence a player faces.
The commissioner can place the accused player on administrative leave during the investigation and will decide on the appropriate discipline, with no minimum or maximum penalty. Players can challenge the ruling through an arbitration panel.
The 15-game suspension is the shortest of its kind under the league’s domestic violence policy. Familia is the fourth MLB player to be suspended under the policy, which was created in 2015.
New York Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman was suspended for 30 games to start the 2016 season under the policy, and Mets’ third baseman Jose Reyes — then with the Colorado Rockies — served a 52-game suspension last season in response to a domestic violence incident.
Former Atlanta Braves outfielder Hector Olivera was suspended for 82 games last season under the policy that led to a trade to the San Diego Padres and his eventual release.
Familia emerged as an All Star and one of the league’s top closers last season. He finished the year with 51 saves and a 2.55 ERA.
The Mets will to turn Addison Reed as their closer in Familia’s absence. Reed pitched to a 1.97 ERA in 80 games during the 2016 season and has 106 career saves, most of which coming with the Chicago White Sox and Arizona Diamondbacks.
Reach reporter Zach Gewelb by e-mail at zgewe