NEW YORK | Mets closer Francisco Rodriguez violated a restraining order by sending dozens of text messages to his girlfriend in the weeks after he was accused of assaulting her father outside a family lounge at Citi Field and will face additional charges, prosecutors said Tuesday.
Rodriguez appeared for a routine hearing in Queens Criminal Court on third-degree assault and harassment charges, and will face additional charges of criminal contempt for sending the messages. Judge Robert Raciti denied a request to send the right-hander to jail for sending the messages to girlfriend Daian Pena, the mother of their 1-year-old twins. He was arrested after a loss to Colorado on Aug. 11 — a game he didn’t pitch.
“I know this message will get me in trouble, but I already lost you, my house and my children,” he wrote, according to assistant district attorney Scott Kessler. “I do not want to have problems with your family, all I want … is to recover you and my children and continue forward.”
The 28-year-old reliever was accused of grabbing 53-year-old Carlos Pena, hauling him into a tunnel near the family lounge beneath the team’s new ball park 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.
“Your parents are manipulating you like a marionette,” he typed in one of the messages.
Pena never responded to the messages, 56 in total, which were mostly apologetic and non-threatening. The messages included 19 sent while he was in Venezuela, Kessler said.
“I understand perhaps I made a mistake, the biggest mistake of my life. But I love you,” he wrote.
Rodriguez attorney Christopher Booth said his client was unclear that he wasn’t supposed to try to resolve the conflict with Pena alone, and that he was told of the problem and corrected it. He said he set up a meeting to see his children — whose birthday is Tuesday — through the attorneys.
“There are no threats, he professes his love,” he said.
Rodriguez didn’t speak after the hearing, and was told to return Oct. 7. He will be jailed if he has any further communication with Pena, the judge ruled. The restraining order is in place until at least February.
After he was restricted without pay for two days, the four-time All-Star known as K-Rod was booed when he returned to the mound, and he gave a lengthy apology to fans after that game. But he tore a ligament in his thumb of his pitching hand during the altercation, and had to have surgery. He didn’t play again.
Rodriguez was 4-2 with 25 saves and a 2.24 ERA this season.
“Because this is a pending criminal matter, we refer all questions to the district attorney’s office,” the Mets said in a statement.
Said Mets third baseman David Wright: “Obviously, it’s not a good situation for anybody. But people make mistakes. He understands he’s got to pay the consequences of his mistake.”
The Mets have said Rodriguez won’t be paid while on the disqualified list and they would exercise a contractual right to convert the rest of his $37 million, three-year deal to non-guaranteed, meaning they could try to avoid paying most of what’s left on it.
By going on the disqualified list, Rodriguez will lose $3 million of his $11.5 million salary this year. When adding the money lost during two-day restriction, the altercation already has cost him about $3.1 million.
In addition, by converting his contract to non-guaranteed, the Mets gave themselves the ability to release Rodriguez in the early part of spring training next year for 30 days’ termination pay.
The players’ union filed a grievance against the New York Mets and the commissioner’s office protesting how the team has handled the Rodriguez case. The Major League Baseball Players Association challenged the decision to place the right-handed closer on the disqualified list and the effort to convert his contract.
If the case isn’t settled, arbitrator Shyam Das would decide whether the team’s actions were justified. The case is still pending.
Rodriguez signed the contract with the Mets after saving a record 62 games with the Angels in 2008.
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