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D'Backs Release Chouinard

Relief pitcher Bobby Chouinard, facing a criminal charge of assaulting his wife, was released today by the Arizona Diamondbacks today after asking the team to let him go.

"I am receiving counseling to resolve some difficult and regrettable problems," Chouinard said in a statement released by the team. "In the best interests of my family and of baseball, I have asked the Diamondbacks to release me so that I can concentrate on continuing to work on my personal and family issues."

The 27-year-old right-hander was arrested Christmas night and charged with aggravated assault after police received a 911 call from his home.

Chouinard's wife, Erica, told police that he had choked and slapped her and pointed a loaded handgun at her head as she pleaded for him not to shoot her. He could face five to 15 years in prison if convicted.

Diamondbacks owner Jerry Colangelo repeatedly has cited the need for the case to begin moving through the justice system before anything could be done. The team also had to consider baseball's collective bargaining agreement.

"Our initial reaction was to see the legal process through," Colangelo said. "However, Bobby approached us on seeking his release and we thought the timing was right to honor his request."

Chouinard was 5-2 last season with a 2.68 ERA in 32 appearances. He had a couple of stints in Triple-A Tucson but was strong for the Diamondbacks in the last half of the season as the team won the NL West title.

In the first round of the playoffs, Chouinard gave up the game-winning grand slam to Edgardo Alfonzo in the ninth inning of the New York Mets' 8-4 victory over the Diamondbacks in Game 1.

The move came two weeks before pitchers and catchers report for spring training in Tucson, Ariz.

"As spring training reporting dates neared, Bobby found his concerns were more with his personal life than that of baseball," general manager Joe Garagiola Jr. said, "and we commend him for that."

His wife told police that on Christmas Day she and Chouinard fought because she refused to go buy him more beer. She told police he had already consumed a six-pack and sometimes became violent when he drank.

She said Chouinard grabbed her by the throat, threw her on a chair and began choking her. He then held her down as he slapped her face, police said. He later got the handgun and put it to his head, then to hers.

Chouinard always had been soft-spoken and polite in his dealings with reporters, but his wife told police that in the past she had been punched in the stomach, slapped in the face and sometimes thought her ribs were broken.

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