March 29 (Reuters) - New York Mets All-Star closer Jeurys Familia has been suspended for the first 15 games of the 2017 Major League Baseball season after being arrested for alleged domestic violence last October, the league said on Wednesday.
The 27-year-old Dominican pitcher was arrested after allegedly causing a scratch to the chest and a bruise to the right cheek of his wife.
Familia denied hitting his wife that night and described his actions as "inappropriate behaviour". MLB conducted its own review of the incident before making a decision.
"The evidence reviewed by my office does not support a determination that Mr. Familia physically assaulted his wife, or threatened her or others with physical force or harm, on October 31, 2016," MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement.
"Nevertheless, I have concluded that Mr. Familia's overall conduct that night was inappropriate, violated the Policy, and warrants discipline."
Manfred said Familia has undergone 12 counseling sessions and has shown a willingness to ensure that he is not involved in another similar incident.
He has also agreed to speak to other players about what he has learned through this process, and to donate time and money to local organizations aimed at preventing domestic violence.
Familia has agreed not to appeal the disciplinary decision and is eligible to participate in all Spring Training and exhibition games prior to Opening Day, according to MLB.
Familia saved a career-best 51 games for the Mets last season. His campaign ended on a sour note when he served up the decisive three-run homer to San Francisco's Conor Gillaspie in the National League wild-card game.
The Mets open their regular season on Monday. Familia will be eligible to return on April 20. (Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Toby Davis)