Reliever charged with felony battery
OAKLAND, Calif. -- The Oakland Athletics and Texas Rangers disagreed over who's to blame for an altercation in the stands that led to the arrest of Rangers reliever Frank Francisco after he threw a chair that hit a woman and broke her nose.
David Rinetti, A's vice president of stadium operations, said Tuesday a review of the ninth-inning fracas the night before -- which took place in the field box seats between the Texas dugout and bullpen -- showed the fans' behavior wasn't over the line according to baseball's rules of conduct that are posted at every ballpark entrance.
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"The incident became ugly when players approached the seating area," Rinetti said before the teams played the second game of the four-game series.
He noted the fans didn't yell racial slurs or swear at the Texas players.
Yet Rangers manager Buck Showalter was quick to point to previous problems the Rangers have had in the Oakland Coliseum. He claimed the Rangers had asked for more security in the area, but Rinetti said neither he nor his security staff had been approached with such a request.
Still, the A's beefed up security for Tuesday night's game and the remainder of the series -- and probably for the rest of the season. Several additional officers from the Oakland Police Department were brought in to assist the Coliseum's regular security staff, which was increased by 10 people in the visiting bullpen and dugout.
Showalter said before the game he was satisfied with the extra security presence and didn't want to rehash the incident. He apologized for the organization.
"I'm not going to get into they said, we said," Showalter said. "We'll learn from last night, everybody concerned."
Francisco spent much of the day at the team's hotel in San Francisco, but arrived at the ballpark nearly 2 hours after the first pitch just in case the Rangers needed his services.
Francisco sat quietly eating dinner with his teammates after the Rangers' 12-9 win.
When asked in Spanish for comment, he said, "No puedo" -- "I can't."
The Rangers said they had a lengthy team meeting before the game, but players were coming in and out of the locker room during that time. The team bus didn't arrive until 4:22 p.m., and their clubhouse was not opened to the media the usual 3½ hours before game time. It finally opened more than an hour late and players didn't have anything to say about what happened.
"If it doesn't pertain to the game, I'm not talking," pitcher Kenny Rogers said. "I think the (security) will be just fine. It's just another ballgame."
Before the game, Texas right-hander Chan Ho Park signed autographs near the area where the altercation took place.
Francisco was arrested Tuesday morning on a charge of aggravated battery after he threw a chair into the right-field box seats and hit two spectators in the head during the 7-6, 10-inning loss.
The injured woman, identified by her lawyer Tuesday as Jennifer Bueno, 41, of Livermore, wants Francisco to be prosecuted. A civil suit is also a likely possibility, since she'll need medical treatment, said the lawyer, Gary Gwilliam.
Bueno's husband, Craig Bueno, is a battalion chief with the Hayward Fire Department. Gwilliam wouldn't comment on what Bueno might have yelled at the Rangers' players before the fracas, saying he would let the man speak for himself at a news conference on Wednesday.
"There is no justification for what they did," Gwilliam said. "Fans are fans and they have a right to have some fun and do some badgering if they want."
Gwilliam said it wasn't just Francisco who went after the A's fans.
"It's the whole damn team that tried to charge and fight with the fans," he said.
Francisco was taken from the stadium to jail, where he was booked and his mug shot was taken. He was released about two hours later on $15,000 bail, Oakland Police spokeswoman Danielle Ashford said.
Commissioner Bud Selig said he was "very concerned about the incident."
"Obviously I can never condone under any circumstances players engaging in any kind of obstruction or violence," Selig said at Miller Park, where he was watching Barry Bonds' chase for 700 homers. "Here, we are having our greatest season in a long time and I hate for this to happen."
Sandy Alderson, executive vice president of baseball operations, and Kevin Hallinan, senior vice president of security, arrived in Oakland before Tuesday's game.
Alderson said he hopes a disciplinary decision will be reached by the end of the week. He didn't speculate the length of a suspension for Francisco or others.
"Any time an object is thrown, there are very serious consequences," said Alderson, who planned to be in town for several days to investigate. "There's no excuse that justifies a player going into the stands."
Francisco threw a plastic chair used by a ball boy at a fan in a lower box near the Rangers' bullpen along the right-field line. The chair hit one man in the head, then bounced and struck the woman on her left temple.
Bob Watson, the vice president of on-field operations for baseball, will decide what punishment will be handed out to the players, while Selig said he would monitor the process.
"There is no excuse whatsoever for any attack of our fans by any of our players under any circumstances," Selig said in a statement.
The A's were trying to contact the woman to apologize.
After Monday's game, Showalter said the fans "went over the line."
"It was a real break from the normal trash you hear from fans. We've had problems about every time we've come here," he said.
But on Tuesday, Texas owner Tom Hicks apologized "for the conduct of some members of our club last night in Oakland."
"Their behavior, especially the injury to a fan, was unacceptable. Even in a difficult or abusive environment, players should never be provoked into such actions," Hicks said in a statement, adding that he had been in contact with the commissioner's office. He did not say whether Francisco or any other player would be punished.
Texas reliever Doug Brocail was seen screaming at a male fan, and the pitcher had to be restrained by his teammates and bullpen coach Mark Connor. Others also had to be held back.
Security ran to the scene and a small section of fans was cleared from their seats.
During a 19-minute delay, there was talk between the umpires and managers of suspending the game, clearing the stands and forfeiting the game.
Last season, an Oakland fan was charged with assault after throwing a cell phone from the second deck that hit outfielder Carl Everett, then with the Rangers, in the back of the head.
During the 2000 season, 19 Los Angeles Dodgers players and coaches were suspended, and three fans were charged with disorderly conduct, after a brawl at Chicago's Wrigley Field. The brawl started when a fan allegedly struck Dodgers catcher Chad Kreuter in the back of his head and snatched his cap as Kreuter sat in the bullpen.
In 2002, Kansas City first base coach Tom Gamboa was attacked by a father and son who ran onto the field during a game at Chicago's Comiskey Park. Gamboa was left with damage to the hearing in his right ear. The next season, again at Comiskey, a fan ran onto the field and attacked umpire Laz Diaz.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
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