TAMPA, Fla. - Aroldis Chapman has no concerns about being banned from the Cuban National Team in the 2017 World Baseball Classic.
And that's because the embattled Yankees closer has another uniform in mind, that of Team USA.
Chapman recently completed the extensive process of becoming a U.S. citizen, pledging allegiance to the Stars and Stripes and singing the Star Spangled Banner in an emotional ceremony at the Tampa Field Office of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services on March 29.
"It was a beautiful ceremony," Chapman said in a one-on-one interview with ESPN.com on Wednesday. "There were about 60 of us there, and we were so happy. I had to repeat the 'Pledge of Allegiance' and sing the national anthem, which I had never done before. I was happy, excited and a bit nervous."
Chapman started the process of becoming a U.S. Citizen two years ago in Cincinnati. He traveled to the Queen City on Feb. 22nd to take the citizenship test during one of his two excused absences from Yankees spring training.
The 28-year-old lefty was also absent on Feb. 25 to attend to a personal matter unrelated to his eventual 30-game suspension for his involvement in an alleged domestic violence incident last October. In that occasion, Chapman told ESPN.com that he traveled to his home in Miami to handle the paperwork related to bringing his sister Yusmila to U.S. soil.
During a recent news conference about Cuba's Olympic team, Antonio Becali, president of Cuba's National Institute of Sports, Physical Education and Recreation, said their organization will only use athletes who have remained in their native land to represent the island nation in international events.
This indicates that Cuba will maintain its ban on baseball players who defected the country and will not allow them to play with the national team in the 2017 WBC, excluding not only Chapman, but also stars such as Yasiel Puig, José Abreu, Yoenis Céspedes and Kendrys Morales.
Upon hearing of Becali's comments, Chapman replied: "I am a U.S. citizen; I can play for Team USA!" and said he would welcome a call from Team USA manager Jim Leyland.
Chapman, who has 145 saves and a cumulative ERA of 1.90 over 255.2 IP over the last four seasons, could potentially face stiff competition for a late-inning role from the likes of teammate Andrew Miller, Trevor Rosenthal, Craig Kimbrel, Wade Davis, David Robertson, Huston Street or Mark Melancon, to name a few.
His other teammate Dellin Betances, who leads all U.S.-born relievers with 291 strikeouts the last three seasons, has already announced he will represent his parent's homeland of the Dominican Republic.
"If [Leyland] invites me, I would love to go," Chapman said. "I can close, but I can also go to the bullpen and throw the seventh or the eighth inning, whatever they need."