12:20pm: Norris has issued a statement, via his agent, to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times:
“First, I want to be absolutely clear that abuse of any form, is completely unacceptable. Allegations regarding this issue are a very serious matter and should not be taken lightly under any circumstances. That being said, in this circumstance, the comments made by my ex-fiancee could not be further from the truth. I have NEVER been physically or emotionally abusive towards her, or anyone else in my life. I plan to go above and beyond to assist MLB with their investigation into this matter.”
The Rays have also commented on the matter, though their statement was considerably more brief: “The Rays wholly support MLB’s Domestic Violence policy. We take these allegations very seriously and will fully cooperate with the Commissioner’s Office on this matter.”
8:00am: Major League Baseball is investigating allegations of “physical and emotional abuse” that have been brought forth against Rays catcher Derek Norris, MLB spokesperson Pat Courtney confirmed to ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick. Norris’ ex-fiancee, Kristin Eck, made the claims against him in a recent post on Instagram. It’s not clear at this time if there is any ongoing criminal investigation, though Crasnick’s report makes no such mention.
Eck’s comments do not specifically mention Norris by name, but she’d previously appeared on MLB Network in a video interview promoting some charity work, in which she was identified as Norris’ fiancee. Her comments also imply that Norris is the man in question: “…I also was physically and emotionally abused by this beautiful man. He gave me a lifestyle most people only dreamed of, but it came at a price. … When I left I had $300 to my name, I had no access to money, I had no access to cars and was only given the courtesy to remove my items from our home.”
Commissioner Rob Manfred and his staff will look into the matter under Major League Baseball’s relatively new domestic abuse policy, which has already led to suspensions of varying length for Aroldis Chapman, Jose Reyes, Hector Olivera and Jeurys Familia. Each of those cases was dealing with allegations of singular incidents, and MLB’s investigation into each of those incidents was also performed simultaneously with criminal investigations. The allegations against Norris, at present, are more generalized in nature, which will likely require a different type of investigation from the Commissioner’s Office.
That is not to say, of course, that the claims levied against Norris should be considered lesser; certainly, it’s a serious matter that could well result in a punishment for the six-year big league veteran. However, Norris’ case does come under different circumstances than the previous cases that yielded suspensions, so it remains to be seen precisely how the league will handle this scenario. Olivera is the only one of those previously punished under the policy whose investigation occurred during the season, and he was initially placed on paid administrative leave during that investigation. It’s not yet clear if Norris will also be placed on leave.