- Associated Press - Friday, December 3, 2010

NEW YORK (AP) - Mets closer Francisco Rodriguez pleaded guilty Friday to attempted assault to settle charges he attacked his girlfriend’s father at Citi Field last season in a deal that spares him jail time but sends him to additional anger management classes.

The 28-year-old reliever had been charged with assault after he was accused of grabbing Carlos Pena, hauling him into a tunnel near the family lounge beneath the team’s ballpark and punching him in the face after an Aug. 11 game.

He tore a ligament in the thumb of his pitching hand and underwent season-ending surgery after the altercation.

The fight cost Rodriguez more than $3.14 million, in addition to more than seven weeks on the sidelines. And he’s spent months trying to repair his image, apologizing to fans and to the league repeatedly.

The four-time All Star left court without speaking to reporters.

“Mr. Rodriguez is very glad to have this incident behind him,” said his attorney, Christopher Booth. “He’s very remorseful about what happened. It’s been a huge toll on him, emotionally and professionally.”

Rodriguez must undergo 52 weeks of anger management, which includes group and one-on-one sessions. Assistant District Attorney Scott Kessler said the sessions were ordered by prosecutors, not Major League Baseball.

He was sentenced to a conditional discharge, meaning as long as he completes treatment he will stay out of jail. Rodriguez already had been taking anger management classes, Booth said, but those classes don’t count toward his sentence. If he does not comply, he will face 120 days in jail.

“We are pleased that Francisco has accepted responsibility for his actions,” the Mets said in a statement. “We are encouraged that he will continue to undergo therapy and is committed to taking steps to improve himself.”

Booth said the pitcher’s hand was healing nicely. “He’s looking forward to the 2011 season,” the attorney said.

Rodriguez also pleaded guilty Friday to two counts of disorderly conduct for sending dozens of text messages begging his girlfriend Daian Pena for forgiveness after he was told by a judge not to contact her.

He sent her 56 text messages in the weeks after his court date. 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 the Queens district attorney’s office.

Pena, who is the mother of twins with Rodriguez, never responded. Judge Mary O’Donoghue ordered Rodriguez to keep away from the Penas for two years. He also was ordered to pay $14,444 in medical bills for Carlos Pena and was fined $1,000. He has 30 days to pay.

The guilty pleas resolve both the case involving Carlos Pena and the violation of the restraining order against Daian Pena. Rodriguez had faced a year in jail on the top charge of third-degree assault.

The Mets player is from Venezuela and could’ve faced deportation, but Booth said that would not happen under the terms of the agreement with prosecutors.

Rodriguez was restricted for two days without pay after the initial arrest and was booed when he came to the mound.

The players’ union had filed a grievance protesting how the team handled the case after the Mets refused to pay him on the disqualified list. They also tried to exercise 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.

The grievance was settled Oct. 19. Under the agreement between Major League Baseball and the players’ association, the Mets stopped trying to convert the remainder of the contract to nonguaranteed.

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

Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said it was important for Rodriguez to take responsibility for his actions, “for his own sake and that of his family.”

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