Statement by Ed Wade
In mid-February of this year, we began contract negotiations with the agent for free agent pitcher Shawn Chacon. During those negotiations, the player’s agent stated on more than one occasion that Chacon had offers from other teams, but that none of them were willing to give the player an opportunity to be a starting pitcher. We made it clear to the agent -and in a subsequent conversation with Chacon–that we were prepared to bring him to Spring Training and give him an opportunity to compete for a spot in our starting rotation.
At no time did we give any assurances that he would be inserted into the rotation for the entire season. Under those conditions, Chacon signed a one-year contract with the Astros on February 20. I’ll invite you to go back and read the statements made by both the club at the player at that time regarding what the understanding was regarding the opportunity to start.
Chacon won a job in the Astros starting rotation and opened the season with five solid starts, compiling a 0-0 record and a 2.45 ERA. However, beginning with his start on April 30 and ending with his start on June 19, Chacon had made 10 starts, compiling a 2-3 record and an earned run average of 6.66. In his last four starts, his record was 0-3 with an ERA of 9.35.
On Sunday of this week, prior to our game against the Tampa Bay Rays in St. Petersburg, Cecil Cooper met with Chacon and informed him that he was being moved out of the rotation and into the bullpen. I was not present for the meeting, but was in the clubhouse both pre-game and post-game. The player made no effort to speak with me and gave short, profane responses to media questions regarding his removal from the rotation.
On Sunday afternoon, Chacon’s agent called Assistant General Manager David Gottfried to discuss the move and informed David that Chacon wanted to be traded to a team that would allow him to start. David informed the agent that our intention was to have Chacon play a meaningful role in our bullpen with the eventual possibility of returning to the starting rotation, depending upon his performance.
On Tuesday morning, I returned a call from the agent when he again stated Chacon’s desire to be traded to a team where he could start and I repeated what David Gottfried had stated two days earlier.
Following batting practice on Wednesday evening, I was on my way to the home clubhouse when a member of the media stopped me to tell me that Chacon had informed him that he wanted to be traded to a team where he could start and said that his agent had informed us of his desire. Chacon also told the reporter that he would accept his unconditional release. I went on camera with the reporter and restated our position that we had no interest in trading him because we felt that he could help us in a meaningful bullpen role and eventually earn a spot back in our rotation.
Following the interview, I went into Cecil Cooper’s office in the clubhouse. Present were Coop and pitching coach Dewey Robinson. I told them of the media conversation and said that I would like to have a meeting with Chacon to clear the air. At that point, Dewey Robinson informed me that he had asked Chacon to throw a bullpen session during the game on Tuesday night and that Chacon had ignored him. Then, in the bottom of the ninth inning with Jose Valverde pitching to close out the game, Chacon got up in the bullpen on his own and began throwing. Based upon this information, I was even more convinced that a meeting was necessary, and I asked Coop to arrange it while I returned upstairs to retrieve something from my brief case.
When I returned to Coop’s office, he and Dewey were still present. Coop informed me that Chacon refused to come into his office for a meeting, telling Coop that he had nothing to say to him and that he had no interest in coming into the office. I asked Coop if he knew where Chacon was and Coop responded that he was in the lunch room.
I proceeded to the lunch room and asked Chacon several times if I could speak to him. On each occasion, he refused to meet with me, finally telling me that anything I had to say to him could be said right there. At that point, I told him that if he wanted me to address him in front of his teammates I would, and I told him that he needed to look at himself in the (bleeping) mirror. Up to that point, contrary what was previously stated, I had not raised my voice to the player, cursed the player and had not made any defamatory remarks toward the player. Chacon responded with profane and threatening remarks and got up from his seat. He moved in front of me until we were standing chest-to-chest and then shoved me to the ground. When I attempted to get to my feet, he shoved me a second time, at which point players and coaches intervened. After order was restored, I told him that he was suspended and he eventually left the clubhouse. I then held a short meeting with the players.
Along with the incidents that I’ve already covered, I believe it’s also important to point out that on Sunday, June 1, Chacon started a game against the Brewers in Milwaukee in which he allowed two hits, two walks, two hit batsmen and four runs in the first inning. When Dewey Robinson went to the mound to settle him down, he turned his back on Dewey and refused to acknowledge his presence. When the inning was completed, Chacon disappeared into the clubhouse. Cecil Cooper entered the clubhouse with the intention of calming him down, but was eventually forced to remove him from the game. Chacon was fined by Coop for those actions.
As an organization, we believe that we have fairly treated the player. His pattern of disrespect and defiance to me, the manager, the pitching coach and most importantly the organization led us to this decision.