Here's what we know:
This morning, there was a disturbance at the Ritz Cartlton in Arlington, Virginia. A woman called police, saying that she had been attacked by Braves third baseman Hector Olivera. The woman had bruises and went to the hospital to be evaluated. Olivera was arrested, but has yet to be charged.
Here's what we don't know:
A lot. But we're going to find out.
Over the offseason, I despaired that Rob Manfred and Major League Baseball were only giving lip service to the issue of domestic violence. I thought they would talk a good game, but then fold when the time came to issue punishments in what is, invariably, a problematic situation, legally speaking. Many victims, for many (sad, but utterly and devastatingly understandable) reasons, recant their allegations even in the face of overwhelming evidence of abuse. They stop cooperating with police and prosecutors. They refuse to press charges. And, for so long, baseball had ignored the problem of domestic abuse, pretending that it didn't affect the sport.
I was wrong about that. The Commissioner's response to the Aroldis Chapman situation (a 30 game suspension), and his continued deliberation over what to do with Jose Reyes (still enjoying paid administrative leave), changed all that and has left me feeling much better. Now I have confidence that the Commissioner isn't interested in sweeping these instances under the rug. He's invested in examining them deeply and committed to levying appropriate punishments. And if he's willing to dig into and shine a spotlight on players with the profiles of Chapman and Reyes, he surely will do the same with Olivera if the allegations prove credible.
Here's what happens now:
Olivera will be placed on administrative leave, just like Jose Reyes has. He'll continue to be paid from his $8.7 million salary while the police and the Commissioner investigate. Eventually, probably after the legal proceeding conclude, if it's likely that he committed the assault, the Commissioner will hand down a serious penalty in excess of the 30 games Chapman received. The Braves will have to use Drew Stubbs or Jeff Francoeur as their regular left fielder in the interim. Given that Olivera has started the year hitting .211/.238/.263 in 21 plate appearances, they may welcome that anyway. At 0-7, Atlanta can't possibly get any worse.
Still, this is not a time of celebration or of levity. The fortunes of the Braves don't matter when compared to the wrong that may have been done. Something awful has happened in Arlington. But, for the first time, I'm certain that Major League Baseball is both committed to doing the right thing and knows what the right thing is. This is what progress looks like.