Embattled pitcher wasn't discouraged from attending

Updated: July 11, 2005, 10:27 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

DEARBORN, Mich. -- Kenny Rogers knew what was coming.

He doesn't like doing interviews, and obviously doesn't care for cameras. But after his temperamental outburst made national headlines late last month, the Texas Rangers pitcher realized he would be the center of attention if he showed up at the All-Star Game.

Kenny Rogers
Starting Pitcher
Texas Rangers
Profile
2005 SEASON STATISTICS
GM W L BB K ERA
17 10 4 34 50 2.54

He came anyway.

Rogers said no one from Major League Baseball had contacted him to attempt to discourage him from coming.

"If someone would have, I would have been open to listening," Rogers said. "But I'm a little on the stubborn side."

However, he later said he "wasn't interested in listening to people who don't know me."

"I wanted the players who voted for me to know that I appreciated it, and I didn't want those votes to be wasted," Rogers said Monday. "When you are voted in by the players, it is probably more of an honor than being selected.

"I thought about a lot of things, but when you get the opportunity to play, especially at this point in my career, you want to take advantage of it because of all the people who helped you get here. I always think about other people, but I don't feel like I'm detracting from anyone by being here," he said.

Swarmed by dozens of reporters and cameras in a hotel ballroom, the 40-year-old left-hander sat at a table and calmly answered questions for 45 minutes.

He didn't appear especially annoyed as he was being grilled about shoving two cameramen before a game on June 29, sending one to the hospital and prompting a police investigation. He just sounded resigned to the fact that he needed to go through this.

"I figured everyone would be at this table. I'm sure the rest of the guys love this, because they don't have to worry about it," Rogers said.

"I don't care for publicity, but I know there's a certain part I have to play. I know some guys have missed this in the past, but I didn't see how that would be helpful. If I knew this would get it all over with, I would have been here yesterday, and I'd stay a lot longer. This is the only way to get past it. It isn't an escape, but when it is all said and done, it will be a good thing," he said.

Rogers was suspended for 20 games and fined $50,000 -- the same amount as his contract bonus for making the AL All-Star team -- after his tirade. But he's continued to pitch while the players' association appeals the penalties, and commissioner Bud Selig said Rogers has every right to be at baseball's summer showcase.

"A player has the right to appeal, as you do in any justice system," Selig said. "I did what I had to do with Kenny Rogers, and Kenny Rogers is going through the appeal process as he is entitled to do, and there's no less excitement in Detroit and around the country about the All-Star Game.

"He's done something that he'll probably regret the rest of his life, but he's paying the price right now."

However, not everyone is glad Rogers showed up. Rudy Santos, a fan attending Monday night's Home Run Derby at Comerica Park, thinks the pitcher's presence is a huge distraction.

"He's one hell of a pitcher, but you know what they say about a second of stupidity. He got elected, but it was pretty bad what he did," Santos said.

Rogers, a three-time All-Star, isn't worried about whether the tirade will tarnish his baseball legacy.

"I have no control over what people think of me or what they remember about me. This is just one episode in my life, and I'll let my whole career stand on its own," he said. "I'll take whatever shots people give me, and at the end, I'll still be standing."

Rogers broke a bone in his non-pitching hand when he smashed a water cooler in frustration after coming out of a start on June 17. Then, 12 days later, he pushed a TV cameraman and ripped a camera from the arms of another as he came onto the field for pregame warmups.

Rangers general manager John Hart said Rogers was angry over the perception by some fans and reporters that he skipped a start the day before his outburst as a possible negotiation ploy. Rogers is in the last year of his contract and has been seeking an extension since the offseason.

"I let myself be lowered by certain things into that situation, and I shouldn't have. No matter what, I should have been able to rise above it," Rogers said.

The pitcher has apologized, but gave no explanation for his behavior when he read from a handwritten statement last week or spoke to a group of reporters for the first time this season on Saturday.

He wouldn't answer any specific questions about it on Monday, either, saying he had to be careful about what he said because of the appeal and a possible assault charge.

"He has to explain his story," Boston's Johnny Damon said. "There's tons of media that's asking the same question. He's got to be prepared to answer it the right way. He's being a man about it."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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