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Wife-assault charge won't bench Rekar

By MARC TOPKIN

© St. Petersburg Times, published August 22, 2000


CHICAGO -- Bryan Rekar will continue pitching for the Devil Rays the rest of the season despite his arrest early Sunday on a misdemeanor charge of domestic battery.

In a statement, the team said: "The Devil Rays, after consultation with the Commissioner's Office, at this time intend to take no action until the judicial process has concluded."

The Rays, according to Major League Baseball spokesman Rich Levin, have the right to suspend Rekar, though such action could be contested by the players union. "Teams can suspend players for various reasons," Levin said.

The decision to keep Rekar on the active roster, which team officials declined to explain beyond the official statement, seems to be rooted in two issues.

First, there does not appear to be much precedent for a suspension. Several major-leaguers have continued to play with criminal charges pending, including Colorado pitcher Pedro Astacio, who was charged in August 1999 with third-degree assault and domestic violence. Astacio, who was allowed to withdraw an earlier guilty plea, continues to pitch while awaiting his trial in November.

Further, the Rays may be hesitant to act until the case is resolved, citing the basic principle that someone is innocent until proven guilty. If Rekar were to be suspended and then found innocent or have the charges dropped, there possibly would be legal ramifications.

Rekar was arrested at the team's downtown hotel at 1:05 a.m. Sunday. Chicago police were called to his room by an unidentified third party and reported that Rekar's wife, Jamie, was bleeding from the nose and had facial swelling.

According to a police spokeswoman, the report said Rekar "hit the victim in the face with his forearm causing the victim to bleed." The report also said there was blood on Jamie Rekar's clothes.

Jamie Rekar refused medical attention and declined to sign the arrest complaint, indicating she did not want Bryan Rekar to be arrested. But because there were signs of physical abuse in a domestic case, the arresting officer was required to proceed with the charges.

The matter will be turned over to the state attorney's office. If convicted, Rekar could face up to one year in jail.

A check of records in Florida and Colorado, where Rekar pitched previously, did not show any prior arrests.

Representatives of the state attorney's office would not comment specifically on Rekar's case, but said similar cases are typically resolved in one of three ways: charges can be dropped, an agreement can be made where the accused party agrees to counseling or the case can be taken to court. Rekar has an Oct. 6 court date.

Rekar, as he did Sunday, declined comment Monday to several reporters.

Unless something changes, he will take his regular turn in the rotation, pitching Wednesday in Minnesota and then again Monday or Tuesday at Tropicana Field.

"It obviously will be more of a distraction than a normal start," manager Larry Rothschild said. "How much so, I don't know. It's going to be tough to tell. He's not going out there in his normal routine. That's obviously been disrupted."

Rekar is believed to be the first Devil Rays player charged with a crime.

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