Baker’s comments came one day after a Yahoo! Sports report exposed an October incident at Chapman’s Florida home, in which he allegedly attacked his girlfriend and fired eight gunshots in his garage.
Baker, who was hired as the Nationals’ manager on Nov. 3, managed Chapman on the Reds from 2010 to ’13. He was fired at the conclusion of the 2013 season.
Chapman was reportedly on the verge of being traded from Cincinnati to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Monday morning, but the trade has been put on hold as Major League Baseball investigates the domestic violence allegations. Chapman was not charged or arrested in connection with the incident, and his lawyer denies the allegations against him.
Speaking to the media at the winter meetings in Nashville, Tenn., Baker defended Chapman, saying that he lent little credence to the allegations surrounding the pitcher.
Q. Dusty, you had Aroldis Chapman when he broke into the majors. What was that process like? Were you surprised by the report?
DUSTY BAKER: I don’t believe reports. Who knows why? I’m not one to judge on how the whole thing happened.
Q. What do you know about the guy?
DUSTY BAKER: Oh, he’s a heck of a guy. I mean, a heck of a guy. I’ll go on record and say I wouldn’t mind having Chapman. No, no, he is a tremendous young man with a great family, mom and dad, and what he went through to get here and what his family had to go through to get here. I was with him through the whole process.
There was a couple times when I had to stop him from quitting or going back to Cuba because he was lonely for his family. So I went through a lot of stuff with Chapman. I got nothing but love for the young man.
Baker admitted he had not read the allegations against Chapman or the report that detailed them.
Baker also discussed MLB’s new domestic violence policy, under which commissioner Rob Manfred has the authority to suspend a player for any length of time he deems fit, regardless of whether or not criminal charges have been brought against him.
Q. Dusty, do you believe that it’s a good thing that baseball now has a domestic policy?
DUSTY BAKER: Yes.
Q. Domestic violence policy?
DUSTY BAKER: Yeah. I think it’s a great thing. I mean, I got a buddy at home that’s being abused by his wife. So I think this policy needs to go further than the player. I think the policy should go to whoever’s involved. Sometimes abusers don’t always have pants on.
I think we need to get them both in a room and try to come up with something. It’s a bad situation. That’s the first thing my momma told me when I was a kid. Don’t hit a woman, even my sister. Man, I was like you better leave me alone before I tell my momma.
It’s a bad situation. I learned that young, but a lot of people maybe didn’t learn that.
Later, Baker clarified his comments on MLB Network Radio.
You can read the full transcript of Baker’s interview here.