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Hal Steinbrenner on Aroldis Chapman’s past: “Sooner or later, we forget, right?”

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At the quarterly owners’ meetings on Thursday, Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner made a pointed defense of closer Aroldis Chapman, who was suspended for the first 30 games of the 2016 season following an October 2015 domestic violence incident during which he allegedly pushed and choked his girlfriend, then shot a gun eight times in his garage. She ran outside and hid in some bushes, then called 911.

Steinbrenner, Via Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports:

Quite frankly it was manageable the minute he got here last year,’’ Steinbrenner said at the quarterly owners’ meetings Thursday. “He was great. Look, he admitted he messed up. He paid the penalty. Sooner or later, we forget, right? That’s the way we’re supposed to be in life. He did everything right, and said everything right, when he was with us.’

Well, no, you don’t forget. Chapman was one of a handful of players — along with Hector Olivera, Jeurys Familia, and Jose Reyes — involved in domestic violence incidents recently and became the first player to be suspended by Major League Baseball under its new domestic violence policy. Chapman’s girlfriend did not cooperate with authorities, which is not uncommon behavior among domestic violence victims. Many fear that if their abusers are punished (fined, fired, etc.) they will retaliate against them. Victims often stay silent or change their stories in order to protect the abuser. However, Major League Baseball does not need a conviction in order to levy a punishment and, as a result, commissioner Rob Manfred levied a 30-game suspension on Chapman, attempting to make an example out of him.

The Yankees traded Chapman to the eventual World Series-winning Cubs mid-season, but brought the flame-throwing lefty back on a five-year, $86 million contract in December. As Nightengale writes, “When you can throw 105 MPH, it accelerates forgiveness.”

Steinbrenner insisted that Yankees fans “love [Chapman].” He said, “There are so few baseball players that I feel can really get fans to buy a ticket and bring their kids to their game, and he’s one of them.”

Not only does a 105 MPH fastball make a billionaire owner forgive Chapman, it makes the scores of Yankees fans across the country forgive him, too. While we can’t control whether or not other people forgive him, we can at least control whether or not he’s remembered as a miscreant.

Jorge Soler diagnosed with strained oblique, Opening Day in doubt

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Royals outfielder Jorge Soler has been diagnosed with a strained oblique, making it likely that he begins the regular season on the disabled list, Rustin Dodd of The Kansas City Star reports.

The Royals acquired Soler from the Cubs in December in exchange for reliever Wade Davis. Over parts of three seasons with the Cubs, Soler hit .258/.328/.434 with 27 home runs and 98 RBI in 765 plate appearances.

When he’s healthy, Soler is expected to find himself in the Royals’ lineup as a right fielder and occasionally as a designated hitter.

Report: Cardinals, Yadier Molina making “major progress” on contract extension

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Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports that the Cardinals and catcher Yadier Molina are making “major progress” on a contract extension. Molina told the team he won’t discuss an extension during the season, hence the rapid progress.

Molina is entering the last guaranteed year of a five-year, $75 million contract signed in March 2012. He and the Cardinals hold a mutual option worth $15 million with a $2 million buyout for the 2018 season. The new extension would presumably cover at least the 2018-19 seasons and likely ’20 as well.

Molina is 34 years old but is still among the most productive catchers in baseball. Last season, he hit .307/.360/.427 with 38 doubles, 58 RBI, and 56 runs scored in 581 plate appearances. Though he has lost a step or two with age, Molina is still well-regarded for his defense. The Cardinals also value his ability to handle the pitching staff.