Chapman's gives more of his side of the story in an interview with Mark Sheldon.
The rest of the puzzle fell into place this offseason. The 4-year-old daughter Chapman had never met, Ashanti, and her mother, Raildelmi, also gained freedom from the Marxist country.
"I could not ask for anything more to how my life is right now," Chapman told MLB.com via translator Tomas Vera. "I have all of the members of my family with me. That is all I need."
Ashanti was born a few months after Chapman defected during a tournament in Rotterdam in July 2009. Although he and her mother are no longer a couple, he fully supports them and the family is together at his home in South Florida."It was really emotional," Chapman said. "At the same time, it was mixed feelings. I was kind of worried. I didn't know how she was going to react. She had never met me before. I had never met her before. She didn't know who I was. I mean, we've had pictures and I've seen and talked to her on the phone, but nothing really personal. I was questioning myself on what was going to happen? How is she going to react? What is she going to say? We are still learning each other.""We couldn't talk about it much last year, but it was something that was definitely weighing on his mind throughout the year," Reds general manager Walt Jocketty said of Chapman's daughter. "He tried for a while to get her here. It's something where he's settled in, he's got his family settled and his full focus should be on baseball. He was pretty good before.
"He just seems more relaxed this spring, more at ease with everything. I think he's more natural. He's gotten more experience here, more comfortable with living in the country."The story became easy fodder for bashing Chapman on talk radio, in columns and on social media. The interviews at his home were done in November when had yet to begin his usual offseason throwing program. It was supposed to be the downtime players earn after a season.
"The article had a lot of wrong things," Chapman said. "They came in and said I didn't like baseball. They came and said I don't practice and I don't work out and all I want to do is be a boxer. I don't know why they did what they did. I am surprised at why they did that. You know what? I didn't put too much into the article. … I can tell you all I have to do is keep working and show everybody they were absolutely wrong."His translator since Chapman joined the Reds' Triple-A Louisville club in 2010, Vera has watched the pitcher mature from close proximity. Vera firmly defends that there has been no lack of drive from Chapman.
"If you see him from 2010 and his first Spring Training to 2014, his commitment is amazing and is willingness to help get better," said Vera, who is also a Reds assistant trainer. "He's thinking about this every day. The difference in him is from night to day. He thinks about being the best. He wants to be the best."