New York Yankees relief pitcher Aroldis Chapman (54) pitches against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the ninth inning at PNC Park. The Yankees won 11-5.
By Brendan Kuty
BOSTON — Time to panic?
Aroldis Chapman said no, but the circumstances pointed to possible trouble.
The fireballing closer fanned Josh Rutledge with a 98-mph fastball and as catcherAustin Romine put a congratulatory arm around his shoulder, Chapman briefly clutched the crucial joint.
Afterward, however, Chapman said it was nothing.
“I feel fine,” Chapman said, via team translator Marlon Abreu. “Thank God, I feel fine.”
There seems to be reasons to worry, though.
Chapman, whose fastball had averaged 100 mph in seven outings this season, touched the century mark just once. Instead, it averaged 98.7 mph, according to Brooks Baseball. He also got just two swings and misses.
Chapman needed a season-high 33 pitches to get through the inning, in which he allowed a run and then put runners on the corners for Rutledge. Rutledge put a scare into the Yankees when he lifted a slider for a long fly to left field, but it stayed foul. On the next pitch, Chapman ended it.
Manager Joe Girardi said Chapman’s recent lack of action could have been why the closer struggled. He had only pitched twice since April 17, his last appearance coming Saturday.
“He hasn’t had a lot of work and that could have something to do with it,” Girardi said.
Chapman didn’t allow any excuses.
“I would not blame not throwing for a couple of days or blame the weather at all. It’s just sometimes you’re not as sharp. That’s it,” the 28-year-old said.