By RONALD BLUM
The Associated Press
NEW YORK — Mets All-Star reliever Jeurys Familia accepted a 15-game suspension under Major League Baseball’s domestic violence policy, discipline stemming from an altercation last October.
The suspension announced Wednesday was the fourth and least severe under the policy, which was agreed to in August 2015. New York Yankees reliever Aroldis Chapman was penalized 29 games, Colorado shortstop Jose Reyes 59 days and Atlanta outfielder Hector Olivera 82 games.
Familia was arrested Oct. 31 on a simple assault charge, but prosecutors later dropped the case. Under the domestic violence policy, a player can be disciplined absent a criminal conviction
Familia is eligible to continue to participate in all spring training activities and exhibition games and leading up to the Mets’ opener on April 3 against Atlanta, and then must sit out the team’s first 15 games. He can participate in up to six minor league games while serving the penalty.
Barring any postponements, Familia would be eligible to return April 20 at home against Philadelphia and would lose $730,328, which is 18-183rds of his $7,425,000 salary. Under a change this year to baseball’s joint drug agreement, he loses the salary of off-days during the suspension, in addition to the pay on the days of games he misses.
“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,” baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement. “Nevertheless, I have concluded that Mr. Familia’s overall conduct that night was inappropriate, violated the policy and warrants discipline.”
Manfred said Familia has undergone 12 90-minute counseling sessions, and that the counselor said Familia was willing to take steps to ensure he will not be involved in another incident. Familia also will speak to other players about his learning process and will donate time and money to domestic violence prevention organizations.
“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,” Familia said in a statement. “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.”
Familia was charged after his wife, Bianca Rivas, made several frantic 911 calls to police in Fort Lee, New Jersey, in which she described her husband as drunk.
“My husband had a little bit of alcohol, and he’s going crazy,” Rivas said in the 911 recording, according to excerpts of a transcript published by NJ.com.
Rivas was left with scratches on her chest and a bruise on her right cheek.
A judge dismissed charges in December after the player’s wife told a prosecutor her husband did not hurt her.
A Dominican Republic native, Familia set a Mets record with 51 saves last season. He previously was involved in an ad campaign for an anti-domestic violence group, which has since ended its relationship with him.
Mets reliever Addison Reed is a likely candidate to fill in for Familia as closer. Reed has 106 saves in a six-year career, only two since joining New York during the 2015 season.