St. Clair/Cohen: How Cubs’ Chapman helped the Castro regime before Cuban defection

From Stacy St. Clair and Jodi S. Cohen at the Chicago Tribune on October 6, 2016, with mention of SABR member Peter C. Bjarkman:

Aroldis Chapman knew he was in serious trouble.

Caught trying to escape Cuba in March 2008, he had put his baseball career — and possibly his family’s future — in jeopardy. At just 20 years old, he worried about his parents, the reaction of his countrymen and whether he had destroyed his dream of one day pitching in the major leagues.

“Everybody calls you a traitor when that happens,” Chapman said in a sworn deposition in 2013. “I thought I was not going to play any more baseball.”

But Chapman — now the Cubs’ star closer — suited up again for the Cuban national team in less than a year, a shorter penalty than typically imposed on players who try to escape. His reprieve was especially surprising given the hard line the Castro regime took against would-be defectors.

Chapman’s quick return to baseball, however, coincided with his cooperation with the Cuban government in prosecutions of several men accused of offering to smuggle the pitcher out of Cuba.

Read the full article here:

Originally published: October 6, 2016. Last Updated: October 6, 2016.