CHICAGO – Though his stint in Chicago was brief, Aroldis Chapman has a sense of the impact he helped the Cubs make on the city with their 2016 World Series championship.
“I always understood that coming here and winning a championship was going to mean so much not only to the organization, but to the fans and people of Chicago,” Chapman said via an interpreter while sitting in the Yankees dugout Friday afternoon at Wrigley Field. “I always knew it that I had an opportunity to help to do something that was going to be amazing.”
Chapman returned to Wrigley for the first time since playing a major role in the Cubs’ first championship in 108 years. Before the game, he took the field to receive his World Series ring from Cubs manager Joe Maddon.
With the crowd on its feet, Chapman and Maddon hugged before Chapman made his way toward the Cubs dugout and exchanged hugs and handshakes with former teammates. He then posed for a picture with Maddon, Cubs president Theo Espstein, general manager Jed Hoyer and chairman Tom Ricketts.
“(Chapman) was one of the most important things that we had last year,” Maddon said. “What he did in the playoffs and World Series is pretty much difficult to re-create. We could not have done it without him.”
When told of Maddon’s comments about him, Chapman said: “I feel humbled by that comment by Joe Maddon. I believe that that team had a lot of talent, a lot of good players and pitchers over there.”
Chapman had 16 saves in 28 regular-season games after the Cubs acquired him in a July 25 trade with the Yankees, and he pitched in 13 postseason games. When he re-signed with the Yankees as a free agent this winter, Chapman was critical of Maddon’s use of him in the postseason.
“I think he was wrong in the way he used me,” Chapman said Dec. 16. “He abused me a bit on how much he made me pitch, and sometimes he made me pitch when I didn’t need to pitch.”
All that seemed forgotten on a sunny but chilly day at Wrigley.
“I always felt comfortable here in Chicago,” Chapman said. “During the World Series and the playoffs, that’s the strategy they had. When you’re fighting like that to win a championship, you have to give everything you have, and I gave everything I had and I’m very happy we came out champions.”
“It was a beautiful experience here in Chicago. I was treated very well by the fans and the city.”
Also receiving his World Series ring was pitcher Adam Warren, who was part of the trade that brought Chapman to the Cubs. The right-hander was 3-2 with a 5.91 ERA with the Cubs before going to New York.
“You work so hard for a ring, for a championship, and unfortunately I wasn’t able to be a part of actually winning it,” Warren said, “but part of the team for a little bit working toward that goal. To be honored as part of that team is really special to me. To be able to always hold on to (the ring) and show it to my kids and my family is something I can always be proud of.”
Warren was in the Yankees bullpen before the game when Epstein and Hoyer gave him his ring.
“To be a part of that special season is an honor,” Warren said. “I was kind of speechless when they gave it to me. I didn’t really know what to say.”
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