Rogers doesn't back down, on and off field


DETROIT -- Kenny Rogers came. He spoke. He pitched. He even allowed a gopher ball to Atlanta's Andruw Jones that might still be traveling if those pesky Comerica Park stands didn't get in the way.

But he lived to tell about his third All-Star appearance as a Texas Ranger. And if this experience works out the way Rogers hopes, he might emerge a better person and even a bit of a role model.

Rogers, whose presence at Comerica Park for the All-Star Game prompted a national debate after he assaulted two cameramen on the field recently in Texas, stood and answered every last question in the clubhouse Tuesday after the American League's 7-5 victory over the Nationals.

"I'm the first to say that mistakes happen and you do things you regret,'' Rogers said. "But I'm trying to go through this the right way and deal with it the way it should be dealt with. Hopefully, the next time somebody finds themselves in a position like this, they'll stand up and face the music. Just deal with it and move on.

"From my point of view, is this (incident) something that was unfortunate? Yes. Was it made into more than it really was? Probably. But did I deserve it? Yeah. And am I here to be responsible? Yeah.''

Rogers, 40, is having an outstanding season for the Rangers, with a 10-4 record and a 2.54 ERA. But he made people forget all about his pitching accomplishments on June 29, sending a TV cameraman to the hospital and prompting a police investigation with an on-field tirade in Arlington.

Rogers received a 20-game suspension and a $50,000 fine from commissioner Bud Selig, but chose to appeal his punishment with the backing of the players union. Amid considerable speculation, he also decided to travel to Detroit and pitch for the American League in the All-Star Game.

It was a demanding two days from start to finish. Rogers spent nearly an hour answering questions from the media at a press session Monday, and he was clearly a villain at Tuesday night's game. He received the loudest boos of any All-Star participant in pre-game introductions, and was torched again by the crowd when AL manager Terry Francona inserted him in the seventh.

Entrusted with a 7-0 lead, Rogers gave up a single to Luis Castillo and a long home run to Jones to make it 7-2. After surrendering an infield single to Jimmy Rollins, he induced a Paul Lo Duca double-play grounder and struck out Carlos Lee to end the inning.

Although Rogers conceded that the booing hurt him personally, he seemed resigned to it. He also expressed the hope that he can rehabilitate his image by accepting responsibility for his actions.

"There's no excuse to react or do things in an unprofessional or disrespectful manner,'' Rogers said. "I did that, and I regret it. I'm trying to do what's right from here on in, and I hope people appreciate that.

"I'm just like everybody else. I've never professed to be perfect in any way, and I know I won't be perfect after this. But if I can react better in the future and be a better person in whatever small way, then this is worth it.''

Jerry Crasnick covers baseball for ESPN Insider. His book "License To Deal" has been published by Rodale. Click here to order a copy. Jerry can be reached via e-mail.