MLB suspends Mets closer Jeurys Familia for violating domestic violence policy

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Thursday, March 30, 2017

New York Mets closer Jeurys Familia, who was arrested on a misdemeanor domestic violence charge that was later dismissed, was suspended 15 games by Major League Baseball on Wednesday.

Commissioner Rob Manfred met with Familia on Monday to discuss the incident, which took place Oct. 31 in Fort Lee, New Jersey. Manfred said Familia will not appeal the suspension and can continue participating in spring training and exhibition games prior to Opening Day.

Under the terms of his suspension, Familia will make appearances at MLB's rookie programs in the United States and the Dominican Republic, along with an appearance for a domestic violence group in New York. He already has completed 12 90-minute counseling sessions.

"Mr. Familia and his wife cooperated fully throughout the investigation, including submitting to in-person interviews with MLB's Department of Investigations," Manfred said in a statement. "... 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 October 31, 2016. Nevertheless, I have concluded that Mr. Familia's overall conduct that night was inappropriate, violated the Policy, and warrants discipline."

Familia was arrested after allegedly causing a scratch to the chest and a bruise to the right cheek of his wife, Bianca Rivas. The complaint filed at the time stated that Fort Lee officer Tony Pickens "found probable cause to believe that domestic violence had occurred."

However, Rivas subsequently told authorities that the scratch was caused by their 1-year-old son, and the facial mark was caused by pressing on her own head. Two knives found on the floor by police were not intimidating to her, Rivas added. Rivas told authorities her husband wedged them in a door while barricading himself in a bathroom following an argument.

"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 issued Wednesday. "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."

The misdemeanor simple assault charge was dropped in December after a judge accepted a recommendation by the prosecutor that it be dismissed. The record of the case was also expunged. The prosecutor had met with Rivas, who did not wish for the case to be pursued.

"It is clear that Mr. Familia regrets what transpired that night and takes full responsibility for his actions," Manfred said. "... [He]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."

The Mets had been optimistic that Familia's case would receive more leniency than past suspensions given for domestic violence.

Jose Reyes received a 52-game suspension to begin 2016 after an incident in Hawaii, in which charges were dropped after his wife declined to cooperate with prosecutors. Aroldis Chapman, who re-signed with the Yankees this winter after winning a championship with the Cubs, received a 30-game suspension last March despite never facing criminal charges.

A first-time All-Star in 2016, Familia led the majors with 51 saves last season. That set a franchise record and became the single-season record for a Dominican-born reliever. Familia, who pitched for the Dominican Republic during the recent World Baseball Classic, had a 2.55 ERA with 84 strikeouts in 77 innings for the Mets in 2016.

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