Francisco Rodriguez faces new charge

Updated: September 14, 2010, 10:09 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

NEW YORK -- Mets closer Francisco Rodriguez violated a restraining order by sending dozens of text messages to his girlfriend in the weeks after he was accused of assaulting her father outside a family lounge at Citi Field and will face additional charges, prosecutors said Tuesday.

Rodriguez appeared for a routine hearing in Queens Criminal Court on third-degree assault and harassment charges, and will face additional charges of criminal contempt for sending the messages.

Authorities said Rodriguez sent his girlfriend 56 text messages from Aug. 19 to Sept. 7 apologizing and urging a resolution. They said he'll now be charged with criminal contempt.

A spokesman for the District Attorney's office said Rodriguez will be arrested and rearraigned on the new charges sometime before his next court appearance, which is scheduled for Oct. 7.

One of the texts to Daian Pena, Rodriguez's girlfriend and mother of his children, read: "let's find a solution to this conflict. I understand I made a mistake perhaps the biggest mistake of my life but I love you."

More texts: "your parents are manipulating you like a marianette [sic]" and "your parents have what they have because of me."

Pena never responded to the messages.

Prosecutors requested that Rodriguez be remanded but Judge Robert Raciti denied the prosecution's motion. Raciti warned Rodriguez that he would honor it if he tried to communicate again with Pena.

Prosecutors say Rodriguez left the country and went to Venezuela on Aug. 30. He sent 19 messages after Aug. 30.

Christopher Booth, Rodriguez's attorney, seemed to question why there would be an order of protection for Pena when he said in court, "She was not the victim in this case."

Of the text messages, Booth noted "there are no threats, there are no menacing comments. He professes his love for the mother of his children."

Booth was pleased with the judge's decision after prosecutors tried to have his client put in jail.

"That's what they tried to do," Booth said after the court hearing. "And we successfully kept him out of there."

Booth said his client was unclear that he wasn't supposed to try and resolve the conflict with Pena alone, and that he was told of the problem and corrected it. He said he set up a meeting to see his children -- whose birthday is Tuesday -- through the attorneys.

Rodriguez, who did not speak in court, was dressed in a red T-shirt and blue jeans. He did not comment while walking from the courthouse to a parking lot two blocks away. He left in a black Toyota Sequoia with Booth and an unidentified woman, who also accompanied Rodriguez in the courtroom.

The 28-year-old reliever was accused of grabbing 53-year-old Carlos Pena, hauling him into a tunnel near the family lounge beneath the team's new ballpark and hitting him in the face. Pena was taken to a hospital with a scrape and swelling above his eyebrow, and Rodriguez was held by authorities.

After he was restricted without pay for two days, the four-time All-Star known as K-Rod was booed when he returned to the mound, and he gave a lengthy apology to fans after that game. But he tore a ligament in the thumb of his pitching hand during the altercation and had to have surgery. He didn't play again.

There was no cast or wrap on his hand Tuesday.

Rodriguez is 4-2 with 25 saves and a 2.24 ERA this season.

"Because this is a pending criminal matter, we refer all questions to the district attorney's office," the Mets said in a statement.

Said Mets third baseman David Wright: "Obviously, it's not a good situation for anybody. But people make mistakes. He understands he's got to pay the consequences of his mistake."

The Mets have said Rodriguez won't be paid while on the disqualified list and they would exercise a contractual right to convert the rest of his $37 million, three-year deal to nonguaranteed, meaning they could try to avoid paying most of what's left on it.

By going on the disqualified list, Rodriguez will lose $3 million of his $11.5 million salary this year. When adding the money lost during the two-day restriction, the altercation already has cost him about $3.1 million.

In addition, by converting his contract to nonguaranteed, the Mets gave themselves the ability to release Rodriguez in the early part of spring training next year for 30 days' termination pay.

The players' union filed a grievance against the Mets and the commissioner's office protesting how the team has handled the Rodriguez case. The Major League Baseball Players Association challenged the decision to place the right-handed closer on the disqualified list and the Mets' effort to convert his contract.

If the case isn't settled, arbitrator Shyam Das would decide whether the team's actions were justified. The case is still pending.

Rodriguez signed the contract with the Mets after saving a record 62 games with the Angels in 2008.

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

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