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Wells loses two teeth in attack at diner

Compiled from Times wires
© St. Petersburg Times
published September 8, 2002

NEW YORK -- Yankees pitcher David Wells lost two teeth and was punched in the head when he was attacked by a man waving a butter knife at a diner early Saturday, police said.

Wells refused medical attention after the altercation at 5:50 a.m. at the restaurant on Manhattan's Upper East side.

Rocco Graziosa, 27, was arrested and charged with assault and menacing.

The incident began inside Gracie's Corner Restaurant, a 1950s-style diner about two blocks from Wells' home that the pitcher frequents.

Wells was there with a friend, not a teammate, when Graziosa walked in with some friends and began talking with the pitcher, police Sgt. David Jorin said.

After the conversation, Graziosa went to his table and made a remark about Wells' mother, who is dead.

A few moments later, Graziosa grabbed a butter knife off the table, began waving it and attacked Wells, police said.

A restaurant manager told the New York Times that the group had been insulting Wells when he stood to leave and a fight broke out. The scuffle spilled onto the street, the Times reported.

Wells called 911, and police arrived and made the arrest.

Wells reported to Yankee Stadium on Saturday and was excused so he could see a dentist, team officials said.

PEDRO NEAR RETURN: Red Sox ace Pedro Martinez threw more than 50 pitches in the bullpen without difficulty and could be ready to return to the rotation early this week.

"Feeling better, but not yet," said Martinez, a favorite for his fourth Cy Young Award before missing his past two starts with hip and groin injuries.

Martinez threw at a leisurely pace while being watched by Red Sox coaches before Boston's game against the Blue Jays.

"Everything was positive," Red Sox manager Grady Little said. "He won't start on Monday but we feel good about Tuesday or Wednesday."

BRAVES: Leftfielder Chipper Jones was a last-minute scratch because of a stiff neck.

CARDINALS: Leftfielder Albert Pujols was out of the lineup against the Cubs a day after leaving a game early with spasms in his left shoulder. Rightfielder J.D. Drew also was out of the lineup a day after coming out early with a mild left quadriceps strain.

DODGERS: Infielder Dave Hansen took his role as utilityman to another level when he appeared on the field about three hours before game time and helped groundskeepers prepare the diamond for optional batting practice.

TIGERS: Right-hander Jose Lima and Jose Paniagua were released. The 29-year-old Lima went 37-18 for Houston from 1998-99, including a 21-win season in '99. But the pitcher, who refers to his starts as "Lima Time," has won 17 big-league games the past three seasons.

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