Chacon's behavior reflected struggles
Right-hander became difficult as his numbers worsened
HOUSTON -- When he reported to Spring Training in February, Shawn Chacon said all the right things and did everything expected of a player trying to make the team.
"I think there's been one season I've come in and had a guaranteed spot and that was a long time ago," Chacon said then. "I'm excited about the competition. I don't want anything handed to me. My main thing was wanting to start and I'm getting that opportunity here. Coop [Cecil Cooper] called me and explained the situation and said I had a pretty good opportunity to be in the mix for the last spot in the rotation. To me, that was better than what else was out there as far as starting."
Chacon won that rotation spot in Florida and pitched well when the season began in April. But when his season turned around in May, so did Chacon's behavior.
The situation deteriorated and came to a head on Wednesday when Chacon's altercation with Astros general manager Ed Wade led to the pitcher being placed on unconditional release waivers.
"We made it clear to the agent and in a subsequent conversations 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," Wade said. "At no time did we give him any assurance that he would be inserted in the rotation for an entire season."
Wade admits Chacon opened the season with five solid starts, going 0-0 with a 2.45 ERA. But as Wade pointed out, from April 30 to June 19, a span of 10 starts, Chacon compiled a 2-3 record and an ERA of 6.66. In his last four starts his record was 0-3 with an ERA of 9.35.
That alone wouldn't have forced the Astros to seek his release without seeking other remedies first. But Chacon's actions forced their hand.
On June 1 against the Brewers in Milwaukee during a rough first inning, pitching coach Dewey Robinson went out to the mound to settle Chacon down. Chacon turned his back on Robinson and refused to acknowledge his presence. When the inning ended Chacon went into the clubhouse and Cooper went after him.
"He was totally disrespectful to my pitching coach, and when I went to try and calm him down he was disrespectful to me," Cooper said Thursday.
Cooper fined Chacon for that incident.
On Sunday in St. Petersburg, Fla., Cooper met with Chacon in his office and informed him that he was being moved from the rotation to the bullpen.
"I was not present at at that meeting, but was in the clubhouse both pregame and postgame," Wade said. "The player made no effort to speak with me and gave short, profane responses to media questions regarding his removal from the rotation."
Chacon then tried to get the Astros to trade him, first by having his agent call Astros assistant general manager David Gottfried to request a trade. When that didn't get the desired results, Chacon voiced his desire to get out of town to a Houston television station.
That convinced Wade that it was time to meet with Chacon, which led to Wednesday's altercation in the clubhouse.
Why Chacon would be willing to walk away from a $2 million contract simply because he was being asked to relieve instead of start only Chacon knows. He has not returned several messages left for him by MLB.com and by text referred questions to his agent.
"As this process unfolds over the coming weeks there will be more facts that are revealed which will shed a little bit more light on the situation and the event that took place," the agent, Dan Horwits said. "In Shawn's case it's not to say that physical confrontation was appropriate, it certainly wasn't. Shawn understands that."
Jim Molony is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.