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MLB suspended free agent pitcher Sam Dyson for the entire 2021 season and postseason for violating the league's domestic violence policy.
Commissioner Robert D. Manfred announced the discipline on Friday and Dyson accepted the punishment. It is the longest suspension levied by the league under the policy for a player who was not formally charged.
Dyson suspended for 2021 season
Dyson, 32, will participate in a "confidential and comprehensive evaluation and treatment program" with the joint policy board overseeing, MLB said.
“My office has completed its investigation into the allegations that Sam Dyson violated Major League Baseball’s Joint Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and Child Abuse Policy," Commissioner Manfred said in a statement. "Having reviewed all of the available evidence, I have concluded that Mr. Dyson violated our Policy and that discipline is appropriate.”
The suspension is longer than Yankees pitcher Domingo Germán's 81-game ban levied in January 2020. He had already missed nine games in the postseason after a report of a domestic violence incident involving his girlfriend.
It's also longer than that given to former San Diego pitcher José Torres. Torres was suspended for 100 games in 2018 after he was arrested on domestic violence charges.
Dyson was a free agent before posts by his now ex-girlfriend alluded to violence in November 2019 and has yet to be signed by a team. The right-hander has had a journeyman career since debuting in 2012.
MLB's investigation of Dyson dates to 2019
MLB opened its investigation into the pitcher in late 2019 when Alexis Blackburn, his ex-girlfriend, wrote two Instagram posts alluding to domestic violence by an unnamed person. She posted to her personal page and alluded to enduring "bullying." She said she had to constantly apologize in "every conversation."
Days later she wrote a post on the Instagram account she runs for her cat, Snuckles. She posted two photos showing the cat on a cardboard playhouse and the playhouse smashed to pieces. The post, voiced as the cat, recounts someone yelling and throwing things at the cat. "This is about safety at this point," she wrote in the cat's voice, adding the two left the home shared with the unnamed individual.
Ex-girlfriend, friends detail abuse
Blackburn spoke out directly about Dyson to The Athletic's Katie Strang and Ken Rosenthal in October 2020, one month after Dyson sat down with investigators. She had filed a police report in Florida and said there were multiple previous incidents of physical violence.
“I’m absolutely terrified of what he’s capable of doing,” Blackburn said, crying, in the videotaped interview with police officers, per The Athletic.
She showed photos of bruises on her arm and said she had a difficult time getting help from law enforcement initially. The Athletic spoke with friends of hers in the baseball community and out who said they could tell something was up, but didn't realize how bad it was. Dyson was controlling and would cut her off from her friends, people close to them told The Athletic.
Dyson told police the two had a “verbally violent and toxic relationship" and did kick the cat box, though the cat wasn't there at the time, he said. The videotaped conversation, per The Athletic, ended on a friendly "get back to your workout, bud!" tone from the officer.
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