Unable to pitch through pain in his shoulder that had bothered him for weeks, New York Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman went on the disabled list Monday and likely will miss at least a month.
Chapman had a MRI on Sunday, a day after getting just two outs and giving up a run in the ninth inning of a 5-1 loss to Houston. The 29-year-old left-hander, a four-time All-Star, told Yankees manager Joe Girardi during the game that he felt fine, then went into the trainer's room after the final out and admitted he was hurt.
"I was shocked," Girardi said.
New York said in a statement that Chapman has rotator cuff inflammation in his left shoulder. Girardi called it tendinitis and bursitis.
"I believed that it was going to go away with the treatment that I was getting," Chapman said through a translator. "Also, the cold weather, I thought it was affecting me a little bit. ... But, eventually, it got a little worse."
Dellin Betances will close in Chapman's absence, a role the 29-year-old right-hander filled last season after Chapman was traded to the Chicago Cubs and Andrew Miller was dealt to Cleveland.
"He's not replaceable. I mean, you can't replace an arm like that," Girardi said. "You just kind of move everyone back a little bit."
Chapman's average fastball velocity has dropped from a major league-high 100.9 mph last year to 98.2 mph this season, according to MLB's Statcast. He is 1-0 with a 3.55 ERA and seven saves in eight chances this year.
"You definitely lose location and sharpness, and also you lose a little bit of strength," he said.
New York made the DL stint retroactive to Sunday and recalled right-hander Chad Green from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Girardi said reliever Adam Warren's role may expand.
"No throwing for two weeks, so you're probably looking at a minimum of a month if everything goes right," general manager Brian Cashman said.
Chapman was on the DL with left shoulder inflammation from May 16-June 23, 2011, while with Cincinnati, and he said this issue felt similar.
He showed a sign of a possible problem on April 26, when he needed 33 pitches to get through the ninth inning at Boston. He gave up a run, then struck out Josh Rutledge with two on for the final out and briefly grabbed his left elbow while walking off the field with catcher Austine Romine.
Chapman wasted a three-run, ninth-inning lead on May 7 at Chicago Cubs, leaving after two outs and 36 pitches in a game the Yankees won 5-4 in 18 innings. After four days off, he gave up Josh Reddick's two-out RBI single in the ninth inning Friday, shook his pitching arm and was checked by head athletic trainer Steve Donohue on the mound moments later, after his 22nd pitch. Chapman initially remained in the game, then was removed after Jose Altuve's single.
"I'm sure a lot of players have it, but it takes a while to really manifest itself to where it really bothers you, and maybe the game in Chicago is what kind of put it over the edge," Girardi said.
Chapman helped Chicago win its first World Series title since 1908, then became a free agent and returned to the Yankees for an $86 million, five-year contract, the richest deal for a relief pitcher. After re-signing with the Yankees, he criticized the heavy workload Cubs manager Joe Maddon had given him during the postseason, saying in December: "He abused a little bit on how much he made me pitch."
After the DL stint was announced, Chapman maintained "it's really hard to say that that was the cause, because not too long ago I felt great and I was pitching really good."
Betances had 12 saves last year and was awarded the Yankees' $3 million offer in salary arbitration rather than his $5 million request.
"Five million dollars goes to elite closers, people who pitch the ninth inning and have a lot, a lot and a lot of saves," Yankees president Randy Levine said after the decision was announced in February.
"I think Dellin is probably welcoming the challenge," Girardi said Monday.