NEW YORK (AP) - Mets closer Francisco Rodriguez was greeted harshly when he returned to the mound Saturday night, hours after apologizing to teammates and fans for a physical altercation at Citi Field that resulted in his arrest and two-day suspension.
There were mostly boos when Rodriguez ran in from the bullpen to begin the ninth inning, and a second chorus of boos when he was announced _ though there were plenty of Phillies fans in the ballpark. Rodriguez gave up a leadoff double but didn’t allow a run in the 4-0 loss.
“After a storm comes the calm. It’s all I can say,” Rodriguez said in Spanish. “Tomorrow I will turn the page and keep going. It’s not the end of the world. I’m a human being. Everybody makes mistakes and you have to learn from them. I understand the situation and I will continue to go ahead, keep focused on my job, my career and perform the best I can the rest of the season.”
Rodriguez said that he understood why the crowd of 39,151 at Citi Field was against him.
“If I was a fan,” Rodriguez said, “I also would have booed me.”
Rodriguez rejoined his team three days after he was arrested and charged with third-degree assault on his girlfriend’s father following a loss to Colorado. He stood before more than two dozen reporters and recited a contrite statement before the game without taking questions.
“First of all, I’m extremely sorry,” he said in a small room across the hall from the Mets’ clubhouse at Citi Field. “I want to apologize to (owners) Fred Wilpon, Jeff Wilpon and Mr. (Saul) Katz for the incident that happened Wednesday night. I want to apologize also to the Mets fans, to my teammates. I want to apologize, of course, to the front office for the embarrassing moment that I caused. I’m looking forward to being a better person.
“Right now the plan is I’m going to be going to an anger management program,” Rodriguez said. “I cannot speak no farther about the legal stuff that we’re going through right now.”
The 28-year-old reliever is accused of grabbing 53-year-old Carlos Pena, hauling him into a tunnel near the family lounge beneath Citi Field and hitting him in the face. Pena was taken to a hospital with a scrape and swelling above his eyebrow, and Rodriguez was held by authorities.
He appeared at a Queens courthouse on Thursday, though he did not speak or enter a plea. Judge Mary O’Donoghue issued orders of protection for him to stay away from his girlfriend _ Daian Pena, the mother of their 1-year-old twins _ and her father.
The Mets put Rodriguez, a four-time All-Star, on the restricted list without pay for two days, costing him more than $125,000. He is due back in court Sept. 14.
Mets manager Jerry Manuel said that Rodriguez had apologized to him and planned to talk to his teammates individually, rather than speak to them as a group. He also said that he doesn’t believe the issue will be a distraction for a team that has already had a trying season.
“I knew that, knowing him, there would be an apology,” Manuel said. “I’m not a psychologist or anybody like that, but from what I know of him and the experiences I’ve had with him, I take it to be a very sincere apology.”
The same temper that often serves Rodriguez so well on the mound, where he emphatically punches his fist after saves, has gotten him into trouble off the field before.
Last year, he got into a verbal altercation with former Yankees reliever Brian Bruney during batting practice at Yankee Stadium, then he had a clash with former Mets executive Tony Bernazard on a team bus during a road trip. Earlier this year, the fiery closer got into an argument with Mets bullpen coach Randy Niemann during a game.