Francisco appeals; two others suspended

Updated: September 18, 2004, 2:21 AM ET
Associated Press

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Texas Rangers pitcher Frank Francisco was suspended for the rest of the season and fined Friday for throwing a chair that hit a woman and broke her nose during a game at Oakland earlier this week.

Francisco appealed the suspension, which will last no less than 16 regular-season games if upheld, said Bob Watson, baseball's vice president in charge of discipline. He remained eligible to play pending a hearing before Bob DuPuy, baseball's chief operating officer.

"It's obvious that there was going to be discipline, and major league baseball made its call," general manager John Hart said. "I know that they put in their time and did their investigations. And as a club, we're going to have to live with it."

The suspension is among the harshest assessed by the commissioner's office for on-field conduct in recent decades, trailing only the 30-day suspension given Cincinnati manager Pete Rose in 1988 for pushing umpire Dave Pallone.

"I don't feel good about it, but whatever they say, I have to take it," said Francisco, who pitched an inning of relief against the Anaheim Angels and gave up a solo homer by Vladimir Guerrero in a 9-5 loss.

Pitcher Doug Brocail was suspended for seven games, and reliever Carlos Almanzar and hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo were each suspended for five games, and all were fined. Brocail and Almanzar appealed.

Jaramillo's suspension was scheduled to begin Friday night against Anaheim. Almanzar declined comment.

Francisco, who was fined about $10,000 by Watson, threw the chair into the right-field box seats and hit two spectators in the head on Monday night during Texas' 7-6, 10-inning loss. With two outs in the ninth inning, the Rangers' Alfonso Soriano tied the game 5-5 with his second homer of the night. Moments later, with Hank Blalock at the plate, the Texas bench and bullpen cleared.

Francisco was arrested and 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.

"Obviously, I'm upset about it," Brocail said. "I'll take it up with Bob and, hopefully, it will be looked at a little closer, and we'll go from there.

"I regret that there was a chair thrown and I regret that there was a lady that was hurt. There were no intentions on my part that that happened."

Jennifer Bueno, whose nose was broken, said Wednesday she plans to seek compensation for her injuries once prosecutors and baseball officials complete their investigation. Hart said the Rangers will fully cooperate with prosecutors, if and when they are contacted.

Earlier this week, Francisco's attorney, Rick Minkoff, said the player rushed out of the dugout to defend his teammates, and was pushed up against a fence in the crush of fans and players.

Francisco, 25, was the AL rookie of the month for August, when he was 3-0 with a 1.69 ERA.

"It's tough for us to deal with that, but we've had a lot of challenges this year through injury and some other things," manager Buck Showalter said. "Obviously, every team in baseball relies heavily on their bullpen, but we'll have somebody else step up. Thank goodness it's 40-man callup time."

Texas reliever Jeff Nelson faces an Oct. 26 trial in Boston along with former Yankees teammate Karim Garcia. They were charged with assault and battery for an alleged attack on Paul Williams Jr., a Fenway Park groundskeeper, during last year's playoffs.

"All around the league, you're always going to have heckling fans," Nelson said. "A lot of them feel that they're paying for a ticket and they have a right to do that. So that's fine. You just have to learn to ignore that part. There's only a few places that probably are really good at security. Seattle and New York have always been very strong at keeping the fans away and protecting the players. But Oakland's always had problems. For the most part, they're Oakland Raider fans coming to a baseball game, so that gets tough."

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press