Thursday, October 7, 2010
Francisco Rodriguez seeking plea
By Adam Rubin
NEW YORK -- An attorney for Francisco Rodriguez says he hopes to have a plea deal in place for the New York Mets closer by Nov. 10, his next scheduled court date.
"I really can't comment except to say we're engaged in plea negotiations," Christopher Booth, an attorney for Rodriguez, said after the hearing at Queens Criminal Court. "We hope to resolve it by the next [court] date."
Rodriguez attended the hearing but did not speak. He was escorted out a side entrance of the courthouse to a waiting car afterward.
Rodriguez is charged with assault after allegedly grabbing 53-year-old Carlos Pena, the father of his girlfriend, and hitting him in the face after a game at Citi Field in August. He also is charged with criminal contempt of court for allegedly sending text messages to Pena's daughter, Daian Pena, in violation of a court-issued protective order.
Booth said Rodriguez has been attending anger management classes "at least once a week, I think sometimes more."
Booth previously has said Rodriguez didn't clearly understand he wasn't allowed to attempt to resolve the disagreement with his girlfriend. Booth said the text messages he sent her were declarations of love.
Prosecutors have said Rodriguez understood he wasn't supposed to contact Pena, but did it anyway. They said the text messages started out contrite, but got progressively angrier, noting that he sent 17 in one day.
Judge Robert Raciti extended the restraining order against Rodriguez, barring him from contacting Daian Pena and her family through March.
Raciti also determined that all of the charges against Rodriguez will be heard on the same day at his next hearing, if a plea deal is not reached by then.
Rodriguez remains free on bail.
After his initial arrest, Rodriguez was put on the disqualified list by the Mets, costing him $3 million of his $11.5 million salary this year. He also was put on the restricted list for two days immediately after the incident. He returned but pitched in one game before it was revealed he had injured his hand in the fight, tearing a ligament in his right thumb, and that he required surgery.
The Mets also converted Rodriguez's contract to non-guaranteed, giving the team the ability to release the reliever in the early part of spring training next year for 30 days' termination pay.
The Major League Baseball Players Association filed a grievance against the Mets and the commissioner's office protesting how the team has handled the Rodriguez case. The union challenged the decision to place him on the disqualified list and the Mets' effort to convert his contract.
That grievance is scheduled to be heard by an arbitrator Oct. 18-19.
Rodriguez went 4-2 with 25 saves and a 2.24 ERA this season for the Mets.
Adam Rubin covers the Mets for ESPNNewYork.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
Attorney Christopher Booth said Rodriguez, who is facing charges of assault and violating a restraining order by sending text messages, has been attending anger management classes "at least once a week, I think sometimes more."