Aroldis Chapman ready for ‘any’ Yankees role with Clay Holmes thriving
TAMPA — As Aroldis Chapman nears a return from Achilles tendinitis, the left-hander said he’s not worried about where he fits into the Yankee bullpen with Clay Holmes excelling in the closer’s role.
“I am here, trying to recover, come back, be well, healthy, and help the team in any way, in any role,” Chapman said through an interpreter before the Yankees’ 5-4 loss to the Rays. “[Holmes] is doing an excellent job right now and I think he deserves the role that he has.”
Chapman is expected to begin a minor league rehab assignment soon. He threw a 25-pitch live batting practice at the team’s player development complex as he rehabs from left Achilles tendinitis that’s kept him out since May 24.
“I’m past that point in my career in which I would fight for a role, for the closer role,” Chapman said through an interpreter.
“I’ve already gone through that,” Chapman said of when he first became a closer with the Reds in 2012. “When I got to the major leagues, they gave me the opportunity to close and I took advantage of the opportunity. Pretty much the same thing is happening to [Holmes]. If he has that role, it is because he is doing well.”
Holmes allowed his first run since Opening Day in Monday’s win against the Rays and has been virtually unhittable since joining the Yankees last season, with a WHIP of 0.786 after arriving in a trade from Pittsburgh and 0.735 so far this year.
Monday was Holmes’ first blown save, while Chapman struggled throughout the season, when he allowed runs in five straight appearances before hitting the IL.
Zack Britton was also at the complex. He threw a bullpen session, with eyes on a late-season return in his comeback from UCL surgery last year.
“My arm feels great,’’ Britton said. “We’re working on stuff to make sure when I come back, I’m ready to perform. With the way the team is playing, I want to be in a position where I can help the team in the playoffs. My arm feels great and I don’t want to just get back, but be in position to where I can make the postseason roster and impact the team in the playoffs.”
Like Chapman, Britton is set to be a free agent following the season.
“I want to be a solid contributor,” Britton said. “I hope I get a World Series ring out of it. That would make it all worth it.”
Isiah Kiner-Falefa was held out of the lineup for a third straight game, as the team doesn’t want him to test his tight left hamstring on the turf at Tropicana Field, although he said he feels good.
Gleyber Torres got his first start of the season at shortstop.