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Tuesday, October 14, 2003
Updated: October 15, 9:44 AM ET
Yankees might face assault charges

ESPN.com news services

BOSTON -- Police said Tuesday they are still investigating a bullpen brawl between two Yankees players and a Red Sox employee, and haven't decided whether to file any charges.

"There's no artificial time table," said David Procopio, a spokesman for the Suffolk district attorney. "The important thing is to just take our time and talk to everyone who should be spoken to."

If police found enough evidence, Procopio said, they would ask a clerk-magistrate in Roxbury District Court to schedule a hearing to decide whether there is probable cause to charge the players.

Grounds crew worker Paul Williams contends Jeff Nelson and Karim Garcia attacked him for cheering for the Red Sox during New York's 4-3 win in Saturday's Game 3 of the AL Championship Series.

An incident report filed shortly after the game by two Boston officers indicated police would seek assault and battery charges against the two players. Since then, police have said no decision has been made.

In Tuesday's editions, The Washington Post, citing two sources familiar with the case, reported that Boston authorities investigating the fight would seek summonses Tuesday in order to charge Nelson and Garcia.

However, later on Tuesday Boston police spokesman John Boyle said, "It's still under investigation. You never can tell the way an investigation is going."

A copy of the police report, which was posted on The Boston Globe's Web site, stated that Nelson "was observed pushing/grabbing the victim in the chest area at which time both parties fell to the ground where Jeff Nelson began punching and flaring his legs at the victim." The report also stated that several other members of the Yankees bullpen "jumped on the victim," and right fielder Garcia jumped the outfield wall, entered the bullpen and began "striking down at the victim with his left hand."

The Red Sox said Monday that police officers in the bullpen supported Williams' account, calling Nelson and Garcia's actions an "unprovoked attack" on Williams for cheering for the team. The Red Sox also defended Williams on Monday.

"We support employees whether they are members of the grounds crew, members of the pitching staff, or whatever," team president Larry Lucchino said.

Nelson said he was annoyed that Williams was cheering for the Red Sox while he was in New York's bullpen.

"I told him to go over to the other side," Nelson said.

Williams said he only cheered for the Red Sox once.

"If that was poor taste or improper baseball etiquette or decorum, that's certainly something someone could question," Red Sox spokesman Charles Steinberg said. "Whether it merited an attack that had him in the hospital is certainly another story."

Nelson told reporters Monday that he was not worried about facing potential criminal charges.

"I know what I did. I know the truth," Nelson said. "If I did something wrong, I'd be worried about it. I didn't do anything wrong. It's great to be a diehard Red Sox or Yankees fan, but it's another to take it to another extreme. That's what these people are doing.

"I played this game too long to go out and attack somebody. I know what to do, I know the right way to do things, and it's a shame everybody took it the other way."

On Monday, Garcia said he had retained a lawyer, but Nelson did not say if he had one.

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said Monday that, to his knowledge, the police had not interviewed any members of the Yankees organization.

"I think the police have been handling the investigation through Major League Baseball," Cashman said. "They're moving at their own pace."

Lonn A. Trost, the Yankees' chief operating officer, told The Associated Press on Monday that the team had retained a local law firm to represent it in the matter, if necessary.