Report: Rocker calls sensitivity training a 'farce'

Updated: June 26, 2006, 2:25 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

Ozzie Guillen was ordered to attend sensitivity training for a homophobic slur he made about Chicago Sun-Times columnist Jay Mariotti. According to John Rocker, Guillen won't get anything out of it.

"This is a free country. If he wants to use a lewd term, he should be able to use a lewd term. Can't you use a lewd term in America if you want?"
-- John Rocker on Ozzie Guillen

When Rocker was ordered to attend similar training after the former Braves reliever made offensive remarks in a Sports Illustrated story published in 1999, he left shortly after showing up, he told the Chicago Tribune.

"The guy told me when I got there I had to show up to make it look good for people, so after about 15 minutes I left and walked right out of the room and it satisfied the powers that be," Rocker told the newspaper.

Rocker was a teammate of Guillen's with the Atlanta Braves in 1998-99 and said he considers Guillen a friend. He defended Guillen's right to speak his mind.

"This is a free country. If he wants to use a lewd term, he should be able to use a lewd term," Rocker told the newspaper. "Can't you use a lewd term in America if you want?"

Guillen also was fined an undisclosed amount of money for his profanity-laced tirade against Mariotti.

On Friday, Guillen ruffled more feathers when he said he did not actually expect to attend the sensitivity training class.

"I don't think I'll be going, I don't think that'll happen," Guillen told ESPNdeportes.com in an interview at U.S. Cellular Field. The interview was conducted in Spanish.

"I think the commissioner ordered that in order to calm things down, but, obviously, to attend one of those, I'll have to take English lessons first," he added. "I'll do what I have to do, at least when I have time, but I don't think I'll take those sensitivity lessons."

A few minutes after leaving the interview room, Guillen said through a team spokesman that he would undergo the training.

Rocker was banned from baseball until May 1 by commissioner Bud Selig, who also imposed a $20,000 fine and ordered Rocker to attend sensitivity training for the remarks he made to Sports Illustrated, but an arbitrator reduced the suspension to the first two weeks of the season, cut the fine to $500 and allowed Rocker to report to spring training on March 2.

In the SI article, John Rocker said he would never play for a New York team because he didn't want to ride a train "next to some queer with AIDS". He also bashed immigrants, saying "How the hell did they get in this country?" He also called a black teammate a "fat monkey," spit on a toll machine and mocked Asian women.

"It was a farce, a way for the scared little man, Bud Selig, to get people off his [backside]," Rocker, speaking to the Tribune, said of the sensitivity training.

He also told the newspaper that he didn't pay any of the fine levied against him by Selig. Rocker was fined $20,000 for his comments, but that was reduced to $500 after appeal.

"I never paid a cent, a lot of players never pay a cent," Rocker told the newspaper. "It's just a front to look good and the way Selig cowers to pressure."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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