Francisco Rodriguez charged

Updated: August 13, 2010, 2:39 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

NEW YORK -- Suspended Mets closer Francisco Rodriguez has been released without bail and told to stay away from his girlfriend's father while facing charges he assaulted the man.

Rodriguez appeared at a Queens courthouse on Thursday afternoon. Earlier, he was suspended by the team for two days.

Rodriguez was charged with third-degree assault and second-degree harassment after a scuffle at Citi Field following Wednesday night's game.

The star pitcher did not enter a plea. Earlier in the day, police said Rodriguez grabbed Carlos Pena from a Citi Field family lounge, struck him in the face and banged his head against the wall.

The Mets said Rodriguez will not be with the team during his suspension. If the ban is not reversed, Rodriguez would lose $125,683 of his $11.5 million salary.

"Ownership and the organization are very disappointed in Francisco's inappropriate behavior and we take this matter very seriously," Mets chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon said.

The 28-year-old closer went into the family lounge, hauled Pena into an adjoining tunnel and "repeatedly hit him in the face and hit his head against a wall" before taking off, NYPD spokesman Paul Browne said.

A Mets official called police while a clubhouse employee was instructed to call Rodriguez on his cell phone. Rodriguez came back about 15 minutes later and was taken into custody. Browne described Rodriguez as cooperative with officers when he returned.

Rodriguez was arrested and held at the ballpark after the 6-2 loss to Colorado. He did not leave the park until Thursday afternoon, when he was taken to the courthouse.

Pena, 53, was in a hospital with a scraped face and bump on his head. He had swelling above his right eyebrow. Police initially identified Carlos Pena as Rodriguez's father-in-law. The pitcher's lawyer said Rodriguez and the woman are not married.

During the arraignment in Queens Criminal Court, Judge Mary O'Donoghue issued two orders of protection: one for Daian Pena, who was described as Rodriguez's common-law wife and mother of their 1-year-old twins, and one for her father. Assistant District Attorney Kristen A. Kane described the incident to the judge and said that other violent episodes between Rodriguez and Daian Pena are being investigated in Venezuela and California. Kane said that Daian Pena took out an order of protection against Rodriguez in Venezuela.

"There seems to be a history of violence," Kane said. "[The complainants are] very concerned. They are very fearful of the defendant returning to the home."

Rodriguez's attorney, Christopher Booth, did not comment on the allegations of past violence.

Booth said that the player must now go to family court to resolve visitation with his young children, who are in the custody of Daian Pena. Booth also said that Carlos Pena lives in one of Rodriguez's houses and uses his car. The pitcher will not have access to that house while the order of protection is in force.

Said Booth: "Mr. Rodriguez loves his children, has supported them in the past and will continue to do everything he can to support those children and give aid to [them] as well as the [children's] mother."

Rodriguez is not allowed to go home by himself. The judge authorized him to return under a police escort between now and Saturday so he can gather belongings.

"Mr. Rodriguez is obviously distressed. He's 28 years old and never had anything like this happen to him before. It's quite a shock for a young man to be put into handcuffs and taken away and charged," Booth said.

"Mr. Rodriguez and I have complete confidence in our criminal justice system," Booth said. "This is the first step in what is going to be a long process. Mr. Rodriguez, like everyone else, has family issues and family concerns on top of the pressures that athletes like him face every day. He is confident, and I am confident, that there will be a fast and just resolution in this case."

Booth declined to comment about what happened during the incident at the ballpark.

[+] EnlargeFrancisco Rodriguez
AP Photo/Jason DeCrowMets pitcher Francisco Rodriguez is led into Queens Criminal Court on Thursday.

The district attorney issued a release detailing the incident. According to the criminal complaint, Daian Pena was in the family lounge at the ballpark around 10:20 p.m. on Wednesday. Rodriguez entered and asked her to come into the hallway. He then asked Daian Pena to have her father come out to the hallway, where Daian Pena saw Rodriguez "pin her father against the wall and punch her father multiple times in the face and head," according to the complaint.

"The victim suffered bruising, swelling, abrasions and redness to the head and pain to his neck, and substantial pain, annoyance and alarm as a result of the defendant's alleged actions," the complaint says.

Rodriguez was ordered to return to the court Sept. 14. He left the courthouse just after 3 p.m. ET in a black SUV. The district attorney was denied her request for $5,000 bail. Rodriguez was released on his own recognizance.

"Everyone knows who he is, and where he is," countered defense attorney Booth, adding that they'd just have to check the Mets' bullpen.

If convicted, Rodriguez faces up to one year in jail.

The Mets, already reeling on the field, now face legal issues involving two of their star pitchers. A Florida woman who accused Johan Santana of rape recently sued the Mets' ace after authorities declined to prosecute.

General manager Omar Minaya, at the quarterly owners meetings in Minneapolis, had declined to comment before the suspension was put in place.

Right-hander Ryota Igarashi was recalled from Triple-A Buffalo to fill Rodriguez's roster spot, and he arrived in the sixth inning of Thursday's game.

Manager Jerry Manuel said Rodriguez's actions were not a distraction to his team, which beat Colorado 4-0 on Thursday and reached the .500 mark.

"These are men, and they have a job to do," he said. "When you cross those lines, regardless of what you've done before or after that, that's what matters."

Manuel said it would be unfair to judge Rodriguez until all the facts emerge. Still, he was disappointed.

"For me, to get to that level at anything is not something that you encourage," he said.

Several security guards, along with some women and children, were seen around the Mets' family lounge. The room is near the clubhouse and ordinarily a convivial spot where players meet their relatives after games.

Mets shortstop Jose Reyes said his wife and daughter were in the family room when it happened.

"I don't know exactly what happened," Reyes said. "You don't want to see that happen, especially here at the ballpark. I hope he comes clean about what happened because we need him here."

Mets outfielder Jeff Francoeur's wife was in the lounge.

"I think it happened more outside, I think, not directly in the family room," he said.

Mets outfielder Carlos Beltran found the incident unacceptable.

"I talked to my wife after the game and she sounded nervous," he said. "I said, 'What happened?' She said, 'I'll talk to you later about what happened.' She told me about the incident and all that. It's disappointing, man. You don't want to see no one go through that. But it is what it is. Now he has to deal with that situation. Us, as players, as teammates, even though we don't agree with what he did, we have to support him. He's part of the ballclub. He's going to come here and do his thing."

As for Rodriguez getting suspended, Beltran said: "No one should act like that. It doesn't matter if the team did whatever it did. No one should act like that. I think that's something as players, that's why every step you take forward you have to know what you're doing. To me, I do [think] he feels sorry. He feels sorry about what happened. But it's too late."

Rodriguez has had previous confrontations with a team official, a coach and an opponent in his 1½ seasons with the Mets, though none reached this level.

"Maybe it's a distraction we need," Francoeur said. "Not to say it's a good thing. But maybe at the end of the day we can turn it into a positive. I know for him, it's between him and his family."

"We support him 100 percent," Santana said. "I'm just hoping to get him back as soon as possible. He means a lot to this ballclub."

The excitable pitcher signed a $37 million, three-year contract with the Mets after saving a record 62 games with the Angels in 2008. He is 4-2 with 25 saves and a 2.24 ERA this season.

"He's going to be there for his teammates," Booth said. "He has been in the past and he will be in the future."

Booth also said Rodriguez "is committed to putting this behind him and helping the Mets go on to hopefully make this season end on a positive note and [accomplishing] something very significant for his team."

The loss Wednesday night dropped the Mets below .500. Reliever Manny Acosta gave up a two-out grand slam to Melvin Mora in the eighth inning.

In May, Rodriguez and bullpen coach Randy Niemann got into a heated exchange while the pitcher was preparing to enter a game. Manuel later said the matter was resolved, without divulging what caused the dispute.

In July 2009, Rodriguez and former Mets official Tony Bernazard argued aboard the team bus. Bernazard was later fired by the Mets amid several allegations.

That June, Rodriguez and New York Yankees reliever Brian Bruney needed to be separated before a game. They had jawed at each other in the media a day earlier.

Regarding the current situation, Booth said: "[Rodriguez is] very upset, very saddened, very disappointed that he's brought on this type of news and notoriety to his teammates. He cares utmost about his family and he cares about his team. And to the extent that anything that he's done has brought some negative press to come onto his team and his family, he regrets that."

Information from ESPNNewYork.com's Ian Begley and Adam Rubin and The Associated Press was used in this report.

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