Attorney says NY Mets closer Rodriguez is in plea talks and anger management classes

By Marcus Franklin, AP
Thursday, October 7, 2010

Attorney: Mets’ K-Rod is in plea talks

NEW YORK — New York Mets closer Francisco Rodriguez is in plea talks and anger management classes, his lawyer said Thursday.

“We’re engaged in plea negotiations,” attorney Christopher Booth said after Rodriguez’s brief appearance before a Queens judge.

Rodriguez faces charges that he assaulted his girlfriend’s father and then violated a restraining order stemming from the incident.

He’s due back in court on Nov. 10. “We hope to resolve it by that date,” said Booth.

Rodriguez, who is taking anger management classes at least once a week, wore a blank expression and did not speak to reporters as he left the courthouse.

He is charged with seven counts of criminal contempt for sending his girlfriend dozens of text messages begging for forgiveness, violating a restraining order issued after he was accused of attacking her father.

The 28-year-old reliever is accused of grabbing Pena’s father, 53-year-old Carlos Pena, hauling him into a tunnel near the family lounge beneath the team’s new ballpark and hitting him in the face after a game Aug. 11.

Rodriguez was told to keep away from Carlos Pena and his daughter. But a week after he appeared in court, he sent her two text messages and kept going, sending 56 in all.

Prosecutors say Rodriguez understood he wasn’t supposed to contact her, but did it anyway simply because he felt like it. Assistant District Attorney Scott Kessler said last month that the pitcher has a history of abuse, mentioning a previous case in which he was accused of assaulting Pena in Venezuela.

Pena never responded to the messages, which included 17 sent in one day alone, Kessler said.

The messages started out contrite, but got progressively angrier. “Thank you for sinking me turning your back, take good care of my children … and now I see that your were with me because of the money …” he wrote in the final message on Aug. 23, according to Kessler.

Rodriguez could be jailed if he has any further communication with Pena. The restraining order is in place until at least February.

The accusations are costing Rodriguez about $3.1 million. He was restricted for two days without pay after his initial arrest and was booed when he returned to the mound. He apologized to fans, but tore a ligament in his thumb of his pitching hand during the fight, and had to have season-ending surgery.

The Mets said they wouldn’t pay him while on the disqualified list. They also exercised a contractual right to convert the rest of his $37 million, three-year deal to nonguaranteed, meaning they could try to avoid paying most of what’s left on it.

By converting his contract, the Mets also gave themselves the ability to release Rodriguez in the early part of spring training next year for 30 days’ termination pay.

The players’ union has filed a grievance protesting how the team has handled the case.

Rodriguez signed the contract with the Mets after saving 62 games with the Angels in 2008. He was 4-2 with 25 saves and a 2.24 ERA this season.

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