Rogers' rage costs him 20 games, $50,000

The Plant City product appeals the penalty for his attack on two cameramen.

Associated Press
Published July 2, 2005

SEATTLE - Rangers pitcher Kenny Rogers was suspended for 20 games and fined $50,000 by Major League Baseball on Friday for an outburst that sent a television cameraman to the hospital and prompted a police investigation.

The players' union filed an appeal on behalf of Rogers, a former Plant City High standout, who can keep pitching until the appeal is heard.

"Mr. Rogers' behavior was unprofessional, unwarranted and completely unacceptable," commissioner Bud Selig said in a statement. "Major League Baseball is a social institution and all of us in the game have an important responsibility to act with reason and good judgment."

Rogers, who is scheduled to pitch Sunday, was in the Rangers locker room before Friday night's game against the Mariners but would not comment when asked about the suspension.

"He's not talking," Rangers spokesman Rich Rice said.

Rogers then walked past a group of TV cameramen without incident, staring straight ahead as he continued to the bullpen in leftfield.

The suspension was among the most severe imposed by the commissioner's office for onfield conduct in decades. Only the 30-day penalty given Reds manager Pete Rose in 1988 for pushing umpire Dave Pallone was longer.

"It's a message," Devil Rays manager Lou Piniella said in Minneapolis. "The commissioner said he wanted to respond to this himself, and he did. ... There's no reason for the physical stuff."

Rogers was suspended a day after Texas pitcher Frank Francisco was sentenced to a work program and anger management classes after pleading guilty to misdemeanor assault. Francisco was suspended for 16 games after throwing a chair at an Athletics fan Sept.13.

Rangers shortstop Michael Young said, "Any suspension of this length is definitely going to hurt our club because Kenny is our best pitcher. We're all going to stick by Kenny."

On June 17, the left-handed Rogers broke a bone in his right hand when he punched a water cooler and threw around other coolers in the dugout.

"We hope the suspension is reduced," Rangers manager Buck Showalter said. "Hopefully, we won't have to deal with it until after the All-Star break."

Showalter said there was a chance Rogers would not pitch Sunday against the Mariners because of the broken bone. Showalter said he planned to talk with Rogers about pitching with an injection in his right hand.

Rogers hasn't pitched since June 22 in Anaheim, a 6-0 loss.

Showalter said he was pleased with Rogers' bullpen session.

"It went well, as well as can be expected," he said. "Hopefully, he'll be able to pitch with it."

Pitching coach Orel Hershiser sounded optimistic about Rogers pitching Sunday and said he thought he was handling the suspension well. He watched Rogers throw for 15 minutes before Friday night's game.

"He threw very well and was in decent spirits considering what's going on," Hershiser said. "He's very quiet right now. He's just focusing on what he needs to be to be a pitcher."

Showalter said he doesn't think Rogers' suspension will be a distraction.

Before Wednesday night's home game against the Angels, Rogers shoved two cameramen in a tirade that included throwing a camera to the ground, kicking it and threatening to break more.

"We've made it clear from the beginning this was an unacceptable behavior for the club," general manager John Hart said. "I know Kenny, as evidenced by his statements, has expressed remorse. The commissioner has spoken and we're going to move forward from there."

The incident was captured on videotape and led to KDFW cameraman Larry Rodriguez being treated at a hospital.

"While I recognize the relationship between players and members of the media may sometimes be difficult, there is no circumstance in which a player may settle a difference of opinion or a dispute through physical means," Selig said. "Media coverage is important to the game and we in baseball are obligated to treat members of the media with respect and civility."

Rodriguez filed an assault report, and Arlington police spokeswoman Christy Gilfour said the case was being investigated as a misdemeanor assault. Rogers hadn't been interviewed by investigators and no charges had been filed Thursday.

In a statement Friday before the ruling, Rogers' attorneys said: "Kenny Rogers would like to make a statement. However, in light of the ongoing investigation, it is not advisable for Kenny to comment directly and publicly at this time.

"On Kenny's behalf, though, we would like to express to Mr. Rodriguez, Ranger fans, all baseball fans and his teammates that Kenny is truly sorry for the incident that occurred and regrets that it happened."

Royals pitcher Brian Anderson said the stern punishment should send a message to other players.

"Punishment is supposed to happen one time," Anderson said. "You punish, and you make the punishment so that no one wants to do that. I think mission accomplished. That will get everybody's attention."

--Times staff writer Marc Topkin contributed to this report.