- The Washington Times - Monday, June 20, 2005

PITTSBURGH — Major League Baseball yesterday denied Frank Robinson’s appeal for a reduced punishment from last week’s fracas in Anaheim, leaving the Washington Nationals manager to serve his one-game suspension last night.

Robinson watched his club play the Pittsburgh Pirates from the stands at PNC Park, wearing street clothes instead of a Nationals uniform. Bench coach Eddie Rodriguez served as interim manager with assistance from the rest of the staff.

Robinson had hoped his 25-minute conference call with MLB officials would sway them to drop the suspension and $1,000 fine handed down Friday. But John McHale Jr., vice president of administration, upheld co-worker Bob Watson’s original ruling, saying Robinson’s confrontation with Angels manager Mike Scioscia triggered the bench-clearing incident between the two clubs.

Though he said he wasn’t disappointed with the decision, Robinson continues to maintain he did not deserve to receive the same punishment as Scioscia. Robinson believes Scioscia instigated the incident by walking up to him and threatening to “undress” every Washington pitcher who entered the game after Angels reliever Brendan Donnelly was caught with pine tar on his glove.

“They expect more from the manager of a ballclub — that’s the way they put it,” Robinson said. “I couldn’t accept it, won’t accept and will never accept it, why the punishments were the same.”

Robinson was plenty familiar with the appeals process, having served three years as Watson’s predecessor as MLB’s chief disciplinarian. He was skeptical of a reversed ruling, but he said he had other reasons for appealing.

“The main thing is being heard, putting my feelings and my thoughts on record,” Robinson said. “That’s basically what I wanted to get out of this: To get some answers at how they arrived at their decision and why the fines are the same.”

Robinson expressed confidence in his one-game replacement, Rodriguez, who won a World Series ring in 2001 as the Arizona Diamondbacks’ first-base coach and has served as Robinson’s bench coach the last two seasons. Rodriguez was handed the managerial reins for one game last season — Oct.2 against the New York Mets — and led the Expos to a 6-3 victory.

He has aspirations of becoming a full-time major league manager … just not yet.

“I think once you get to this level, any coach has aspirations of ascending in the game,” Rodriguez said. “In that regard, yeah, I would love to if the opportunity ever came. But right now, I’m the bench coach. That’s what I am, and that’s what I’m going to continue to serve as.”

The Nationals originally hoped to have roving coach Jack Voigt in the dugout last night to fill Rodriguez’s regular duties, but MLB required that the Nationals be one coach down.

Injury updates

Right-hander T.J. Tucker, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list Saturday with an elbow injury, underwent an MRI yesterday in Cincinnati. The test confirmed the club’s original diagnosis of elbow inflammation, and Tucker will receive an injection to try to ease the problem. If that doesn’t work, doctors ultimately could decide surgery is necessary.

Meanwhile, Jose Vidro took live batting practice for the first time yesterday since suffering a torn ankle tendon May 4. Vidro, who also ran in the field at PNC Park, said he continues to progress but acknowledges it’s going to take more time to return to 100 percent.

“I was out, what, six weeks?” he said. “It’s going to take more than two days to get my legs back.”

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