Mets’ Rodriguez booed at home (AP)

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

NEW YORK (AP)—Mets closer Francisco Rodriguez was greeted harshly when he
returned to the mound Saturday night, hours after apologizing to teammates and
fans for a physical altercation at Citi Field that resulted in his arrest and
two-day suspension.

There were mostly boos when Rodriguez ran in from the bullpen to begin the
ninth inning, and a second chorus of boos when he was announced—though there
were plenty of Phillies fans in the ballpark. Rodriguez gave up a leadoff double
but didn’t allow a run in the 4-0 loss.

“After a storm comes the calm. It’s all I can say,” Rodriguez said in
Spanish. “Tomorrow I will turn the page and keep going. It’s not the end of the
world. I’m a human being. Everybody makes mistakes and you have to learn from
them. I understand the situation and I will continue to go ahead, keep focused
on my job, my career and perform the best I can the rest of the season.”

Rodriguez said that he understood why the crowd of 39,151 at Citi Field was
against him.

“If I was a fan,” Rodriguez said, “I also would have booed me.”

Rodriguez rejoined his team three days after he was arrested and charged
with third-degree assault on his girlfriend’s father following a loss to
Colorado. He stood before more than two dozen reporters and recited a contrite
statement before the game without taking questions.

“First of all, I’m extremely sorry,” he 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. Pena was taken to a hospital with a scrape and swelling above
his eyebrow, and Rodriguez was held 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.
14.

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.”

Rodriguez is in the second season of a guaranteed three-year, $37 million
contract, a deal that would vest for 2012 at $17.5 million if he finishes 55
games next season. Rodriguez began the day at is 4-2 with 25 saves and a 2.24
ERA.

“We don’t pay attention to that. We have to go out and do our jobs,”
outfielder Angel Pagan(notes) said of the situation. “We talked to him, some of the
guys. I’m sure he’ll handle things the right way.”

AP Sports Writer Eric Nunez contributed to this report.

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