Feature on Aroldis Chapman — in the April Issue of Yankees Magazine

April 13, 2017 — The Yankees landed one of the most sought-after free agents on the market this winter in Aroldis Chapman, inking him to a five-year deal. For the Yankees, this signing was an especially big win, when considering that the team traded Chapman to the Chicago Cubs last season for a package of players that included relief pitcher Adam Warren and three minor leaguers highlighted by one of the game’s best prospects, infielder Gleyber Torres.

During the time I spent in Tampa, Florida, for spring training, I met up with the Yankees closer, interviewing him for a feature that will be published in the April Issue of Yankees Magazine.

The April Issue of Yankees Magazine will be on sale at Yankee Stadium and on newsstands throughout New York City and the surrounding areas, beginning on April 10.

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My conversation with Chapman took place in a most appropriate location, the Yankees bullpen at George M. Steinbrenner Field. During our time together, Chapman opened up about pitching for the Cubs in the pressure-packed World Series last season — during which he nearly lost the Fall Classic by giving up a home run in Game 7 but ultimately helped the Chicago win its first championship since 1908.

“I never felt pressure during the playoffs or the World Series,” Chapman said through Yankees bilingual media relations coordinator Marlon Abreu. “Even when the Indians tied the game, I never felt any pressure. I don’t know why I was able to remain calm on the mound. I felt like I was just pitching another game in the regular season. It’s an experience that actually helps you develop your baseball IQ. You learn how to deal with the most important innings of the season. You also develop the skills for how you can help teammates when they face those kinds of situations.”

As we sat down in between Chapman’s workouts, the flame-thrower also spoke with me about his relentless drive and unflappable work ethic — which ended up being the main theme of my story.

“On a day like today, I had to pitch live batting practice,” Chapman said. “I got prepared for that, warmed up and pitched to a handful of batters. Following that, I went to the gym and worked out. I will take some time with my family in the early afternoon. Then, I will go to the sauna and go back to the gym to do cardio work. After that, I will do more weightlifting.”

Chapman also admitted that he deserves the reputation of someone with a singular focus from the time spring training begins through the end of the baseball season, and he wasn’t about to refute it.

“I have a whole bunch of friends who mess with me because I don’t have a hobby,” said Chapman. “They tell me that I go to the ballpark, work out, then go back to the gym to work out again. They tell me that I never do anything else. I don’t go to the beach or to the mall. And I tell them that all I can think of is training, diet and pitching. That’s just the way I am.”

To read more about Chapman, including his expectations for 2017 and his take on his 100 mph (and sometimes faster) fastball, turn to my feature in the April Issue of Yankees Magazine.

— Alfred Santasiere III