After woeful 2009, New York Mets slide both on the field and off

By Ronald Blum, AP
Friday, August 13, 2010

After woeful 2009, New York Mets slide again

NEW YORK — Not winning consecutive games since mid-June is the least of the New York Mets’ worries.

Francisco Rodriguez’s arrest on a charge of third-degree assault against the father of his girlfriend is only the latest in a long list of on- and off-the-field embarrassments for the franchise.

Following a slide from 89-73 in 2008 to 70-92 last year as players spent more than 1,480 days on the disabled list, this year’s tumult began when All-Star center fielder Carlos Beltran had right knee surgery on Jan. 13 without the advance written consent of the team, sparking a noisy dispute.

Jason Bay, their big offseason acquisition, muddled to a .259 average with just six homers before going on the disabled list with a concussion. Bay played two games after he crashed into a wall at Los Angeles on July 23, but was placed on the DL after headaches began following a flight home from California.

A Florida woman who accused Johan Santana of rape sued the Mets ace in Lee County, Fla., after authorities declined to prosecute the case. Santana has declined comment.

So Rodriguez’s arrest following a fight outside a family lounge at Citi Field on Wednesday night was only jarring to an extent.

“Maybe it’s a distraction we need,” outfielder Jeff Francoeur said. “Not to say it’s a good thing. But maybe at the end of the day we can turn it into a positive. I know for him, it’s between him and his family.”

The Mets were 41-30 in late June but are just 57-57 following Thursday’s 4-0 win over Colorado, when Santana pitched a much-needed, four-hit shutout — with Rodriguez unavailable.

Since beating Detroit on June 22-23, the Mets have played 43 games without winning two in a row. All-Star third baseman David Wright is batting .196 with three homers and 12 RBIs since the break, a huge drop following a strong first half.

Mets manager Jerry Manuel says the tumult is no excuse.

“We’ve had a lot of things go on here and there,” he said. “We are men and things come our way and we still have a job to do. We have to perform, which right now we’re not doing very well at, but we still have to put forth our best effort.”

Rodriguez was arrested and charged with third-degree assault after New York’s 6-2 loss to Colorado on Wednesday night. The team put him on the restricted list without pay for two days, costing him more than $125,000.

“Ownership and the organization are very disappointed in Francisco’s inappropriate behavior and we take this matter very seriously,” Mets chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon said.

The 28-year-old reliever is accused of grabbing 53-year-old Carlos Pena, hauling him into a nearby tunnel, hitting him in the face and banging his head against the wall. Pena went to a hospital with a scrape and swelling above his right eyebrow.

Rodriguez didn’t enter a plea. Held overnight at Citi Field, he wore jeans, a white dress shirt and sneakers in a Queens courthouse. He didn’t speak, but nodded as the judge spoke to him.

Judge Mary O’Donoghue in Queens Criminal Court issued orders of protection for Rodriguez to stay away from his girlfriend — Daian Pena, the mother of their 1-year-old twins — and her father.

Assistant District Attorney Kristen Kane was denied her request for $5,000 bail. Rodriguez was released on his own recognizance and is due back in court Sept. 14.

“No one should act like that,” Beltran said.

“He feels sorry about what happened, but it’s too late,” he added. “We all have family issues. But those family issues should be addressed at the house, not near the ballpark, nor at the place where you work.”

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