By Associated Press - Wednesday, June 7, 2017

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Tampa Bay Rays catcher Derek Norris denies a claim by his ex-fiance that he was physically and emotionally abusive to her during their relationship and that he will cooperate with Major League Baseball’s investigation of the matter.

Kristen Eck told the Tampa Bay Times on Wednesday that she left Norris last June, about eight months after a 2015 incident in which Eck said the player put her in a “choke-hold” and grabbed her hair and arms after she confronted Norris about talking to another woman.

Norris said in a statement released before Wednesday night’s game against the Chicago White Sox that he wants 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,” the player added.

“I have NEVER been physically or emotionally abusive towards her, or anyone else in my life,” Norris said. “I plan to go above and beyond to assist MLB with their investigation into this matter.”

ESPN was first to report MLB is looking into the woman’s allegations.

Norris, who signed with Tampa Bay as a free agent in March after being released by the Washington Nationals, returned to Tampa Bay’s lineup Wednesday after missing two games due to back spasms. He was hitting .194 with five homers and 17 RBIs.

The Rays said they “wholly support MLB’s Domestic Violence policy,” take the allegations “very seriously” and will “fully cooperate with the Commissioner’s Office on this matter.”

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