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Thursday, May 1, 2003
Lugo charged with assault; wife treated for injuries

Associated Press

HOUSTON -- Houston Astros shortstop Julio Lugo was demoted Thursday, hours after he was arrested and charged with hitting his wife in the face and slamming her head on a car hood.

 Julio Lugo
Lugo

Lugo was arrested after Wednesday night's game at Minute Maid Park. Lugo was freed on $50,000 bond Thursday after spending the night in jail. Lugo's wife, Mabel, was treated for minor injuries at a hospital and released.

She said she was attacked by her husband Wednesday afternoon before Houston's 11-1 loss to the Atlanta Braves, Houston police spokeswoman Silvia Trevino said Thursday.

The Astros designated Lugo for assignment Thursday, meaning they have 10 days to release, trade or send him to the minors.

"It's a difficult issue for the player to try to work through as well as the organization and the pressure and tremendous scrutiny," general manager Gerry Hunsicker said.

"We felt it was in Julio's best interest and in the best interest of the organization to put this situation behind us as quickly as possible and let Julio get on with his career elsewhere."

Lugo told Houston television station KRIV in a telephone interview Thursday night that the police report was inaccurate.

"It's not really the truth because my mom raised me better than that,'' Lugo said. "If I had to fight somebody she is not the one I'm gonna pick," he said.

"I've never been in a situation like this before. Sometimes people drive you to the wrong direction, directions that you don't want to go," he said.

Attempts by The Associated Press to reach Lugo by telephone Thursday were not immediately successful.

Lugo was charged with misdemeanor assault, and a conviction would be punishable by up to one year in jail and a $4,000 fine. Mabel Lugo obtained a protective court order against her husband, police spokesman Alvin Wright said earlier Thursday.

The Astros moved quickly to distance themselves from Lugo, who had slumped this season at shortstop.

"It just destroyed me," owner Drayton McLane Jr. said. "I was shocked first because I've known Julio very well. I was fond of him. He had an outgoing personality. I'd seen him come onto our club and make the club three years ago.

"I remember he shared with me when they were expecting a baby and when they had the baby. It was a great shock to me personally."

The Astros said in a statement it is "acutely aware of the issues surrounding domestic violence and we completely support the steps necessary to deal with it."

The infielder is in his fourth season with the Astros, batting .246 with two RBI in 22 games.

Astros president of business operations Pam Gardner is on the board of directors of the Houston Area Women's Center, which assists those affected by domestic violence.

"My first reaction is how our organization deals with this and I was proud that our organization dealt with it in the way it did,'' Gardner said. "We made a statement how we deal not with just domestic violence but violence of any kind.

"It's unacceptable. We clearly stated that and I'm proud of that."

Houston purchased the contract of infielder Dave Matranga from Triple-A New Orleans to take Lugo's spot on the roster.