Francisco Rodriguez apologizes
NEW YORK -- New York Mets closer Francisco Rodriguez stood before more than two dozen TV cameras and reporters and apologized to his teammates and fans on Saturday for a physical altercation at Citi Field that resulted in his arrest and a team-imposed two-game suspension. He also said he'll undergo anger-management counseling following the incident with his girlfriend's father after Wednesday night's loss to Colorado.
Rodriguez was charged with third-degree assault and second-degree harassment in Queens Criminal Court on Thursday. On Saturday Rodriguez rejoined the Mets, who had suspended him for two games without pay.
Rodriguez gave a one-minute statement to reporters Saturday, apologizing to ownership, fans and his teammates, and acknowledging he's headed to anger-management counseling. He took no questions.
"First of all, I'm extremely sorry," Rodriguez said. "I want to apologize to [owners] Fred Wilpon, Jeff Wilpon and Mr. [Saul] Katz for the incident that happened Wednesday night. I want to apologize also to the Mets fans, to my teammates. I want to apologize, of course, to the front office for the embarrassing moment that I caused. I'm looking forward to being a better person.
"Right now the plan is I'm going to be going to [an] anger management program. And I cannot speak no farther about the legal stuff that we're going through right now. I want to apologize. Sorry."
On Thursday police said that Rodriguez grabbed 53-year-old Carlos Pena outside a family lounge at Citi Field, struck him in the face and banged his head against the wall. Pena went to a hospital with a scrape and swelling above his right eyebrow.
Rodriguez appeared in court Thursday, though he did not speak or enter a plea. Judge Mary O'Donoghue issued orders of protection for him to stay away from his girlfriend -- Daian Pena, the mother of their 1-year-old twins -- and her father.
The Mets put Rodriguez, a four-time All-Star, on the restricted list without pay for two days, costing him more than $125,000. He is due back in court Sept. 14.
Mets manager Jerry Manuel accepted Rodriguez's apology.
"I'm not a psychologist or anybody like that, but from what I know of him, and the experience I've had with him, I take it to be a very sincere apology," Manuel said.
Manuel added that Rodriguez wouldn't address the team as a whole, but would apologize to players and coaches individually.
The same temper that often serves Rodriguez so well on the mound, where he emphatically punches his fist after saves, has gotten him into trouble off the field before.
Last year, he got into a verbal altercation with former Yankees reliever Brian Bruney during batting practice at Yankee Stadium, then he had a clash with former Mets executive Tony Bernazard on a team bus during a road trip. Earlier this year, the fiery closer got into an argument with Mets bullpen coach Randy Niemann during a game.
"I know whatever he had with Randy, the bullpen, he was apologetic for that," Manuel said, when asked about the repeated behavior. "The other incidents, I wouldn't know."
General manager Omar Minaya said before Friday night's game that Rodriguez's behavior "is not acceptable" and that the two-game suspension levied by the team was an appropriate punishment.
Rodriguez is in the second season of a guaranteed three-year, $37 million deal, a deal that would vest for 2012 at $17.5 million if he finishes 55 games next season and remains healthy.
Manuel said before Saturday's game against the Phillies that he had no hesitation about pitching Rodriguez, and sure enough, Rodriguez pitched a scoreless ninth in the Mets' 4-0 loss.
"He was very apologetic as to the position he put us in," Manuel said before the game. "He felt the best way to repay us was to go out and try to do his job. That's basically the gist of it."
Rodriguez was booed lustily by the 39,151 on hand at Citi Field when he jogged in from the bullpen and again when he was announced. The 6-foot right-hander allowed a leadoff double in the inning to Greg Dobbs but retired the next three Phillies hitters in order to end the frame.
"That's the one thing that I cannot control. [It's] out of my hands," Rodriguez said after his first appearance since Tuesday against Colorado. "The only thing I have to do out there is to go do my job and put a zero on the board and that's what I did."
Rodriguez did not tell reporters which teammates he had apologized to before the game.
"That's something that's personal that I don't think I have to share with you," he said.
"He hasn't talked to me yet," Angel Pagan said. "But already I went to him and told him that as a teammate we're going to be there for him to back him up and to keep moving forward.
"It's something that already happened and we've just got to keep going out there and take care of business."
Rodriguez said he was "a little stiff" after not having pitched for the past three days.
The closer was asked if he thought he could maintain his fiery on-field persona while trying to become what he described as "a better person" off of it.
"I'm not going to comment on that," he said. "I've [said] enough already."
Rodriguez is 4-2 with 25 saves and a 2.20 ERA this season, his lowest ERA since 2006.
Information from ESPNNewYork.com's Adam Rubin and Ian Begley and The Associated Press was used in this report.