Mets’ Rodriguez apologizes for attack (AP)

Aug 14th, 2010 | By sportsnews | Category: Sports

NEW YORK (AP)—The Mets’ Francisco Rodriguez stood before more than two dozen
TV cameras and reporters and apologized to his teammates and fans on Saturday
for a physical altercation at Citi Field that resulted in his arrest and a
team-imposed two-game suspension.

Rodriguez rejoined his team before the Mets played Philadelphia, three days
after he was arrested and charged with third-degree assault on his girlfriend’s
father following a loss to Colorado. He recited a contrite statement but did not
take any questions.

“First of all, I’m extremely sorry,” Rodriguez said in a small room across
the hall from the Mets’ clubhouse at Citi Field. “I want to apologize to
(owners) Fred Wilpon, Jeff Wilpon and Mr. (Saul) Katz for the incident that
happened Wednesday night. I want to apologize also to the Mets fans, to my
teammates. I want to apologize, of course, to the front office for the
embarrassing moment that I caused. I’m looking forward to being a better person.

“Right now the plan is I’m going to be going to an anger management
program,” Rodriguez said. “I cannot speak no farther about the legal stuff
that we’re going through right now.”

The 28-year-old reliever is accused of grabbing 53-year-old Carlos Pena(notes),
hauling him into a tunnel near the family lounge beneath Citi Field, and hitting
him in the face and banging his head against the wall. Pena was taken to a
hospital with a scrape and swelling above his eyebrow, and Rodriguez was held at
the ballpark by authorities.

He appeared at a Queens courthouse on Thursday, though he did not speak or
enter a plea. Judge Mary O’Donoghue issued orders of protection for him to stay
away from his girlfriend—Daian Pena, the mother of their 1-year-old twins—
and her father.

The Mets put Rodriguez, a four-time All-Star, on the restricted list without
pay for two days, costing him more than $125,000. He is due back in court Sept.

Mets manager Jerry Manuel said that Rodriguez had apologized to him and
planned to talk to his teammates individually, rather than speak to them as a
group. He also said that he doesn’t believe the issue will be a distraction for
a team that has already had a trying season.

“I knew that, knowing him, there would be an apology,” Manuel said. “I’m
not a psychologist or anybody like that, but from what I know of him and the
experiences I’ve had with him, I take it to be a very sincere apology.”

The same temper that often serves Rodriguez so well on the mound, where he
emphatically punches his fist after saves, has gotten him into trouble off the
field before.

Last year, he got into a verbal altercation with former Yankees reliever
Brian Bruney(notes) during batting practice at Yankee Stadium, then he had a clash with
former Mets executive Tony Bernazard on a team bus during a road trip. Earlier
this year, the fiery closer got into an argument with Mets bullpen coach Randy
Niemann during a game.

“I know whatever he had with Randy, the bullpen, he was apologetic for
that,” Manuel said, when asked about the repeated behavior. “The other
incidents, I wouldn’t know.”

General manager Omar Minaya said before Friday night’s game that Rodriguez’s
behavior “is not acceptable” and that the two-game suspension levied by the
team was an appropriate punishment.

Rodriguez is in the second season of a guaranteed three-year, $37 million
deal, a deal that would best for 2012 at $17.5 million if he finishes 55 games
next season and remains healthy.

Manuel said that he wouldn’t hesitate to use Rodriguez on Saturday night,
especially since it’s been three days since he last appeared in a game.
Rodriguez is 4-2 with 25 saves and a 2.24 ERA this season, matching his lowest
earned-run average since 2006.

“He was apologetic as to the position he put us in,” Manuel said, “and
felt the best way to repay us is to go out and do his job.”

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