By Tony Mangia
METS PROBLEMS ACCUMULATE
New York Mets relief pitcher, Francisco Rodriguez came out of the pen today. In a week that saw the Mets' record drop to under .500 and Johan Santana become the center of civil suit, which alleges the pitcher sexually assaulted a Florida woman, now comes the arrest and release of closer Rodriguez for attacking his father-in-law. Rodriguez was charged with 3rd degree assault by the NYPD Wednesday night after the Mets 6-2 loss to the Colorado Rockies.
The volatile Rodriguez, aka K-Rod, was accused of punching Carlos Pena, 53, then pushing his head into a wall inside the Mets Family Lounge at CitiField. The Mets pitcher was handcuffed on the premises and held overnight. Rodriguez was released on his own recognizance this afternoon while the Mets were cruising to a 4-0 complete game victory over the Rockies by Santana.
Rodriguez has a history of altercations. He had a "heated" discussion with the Mets' bullpen coach, Randy Niemann, earlier this year where some reporters claimed there was physical contact. Last year, the hot-tempered Rodriguez got into a public skirmish with assistant GM, Tony Bernazard , on a team bus. Mutual glares with opposing players have always been as much a part of his repertoire as is his arm.
The Mets announced that Rodriguez will be suspended without pay for two games. In a statement they declared, "We take this situation seriously." The big question is does Rodriguez?
A BALKING TIME BOMB
Teammates have rallied around K-Rod before, but must wonder what set him off this time. Manager Jerry Manuel's decision to not use the pitcher for a four-out save in the eighth inning with the Mets ahead 2-1 could have set things in motion. Manuel used Manny Acosta, who gave up a grand slam and lost the game. When reporters approached the 28 year-old Rodriguez after the game he threw a tantrum like an bratty kid. He cursed and shouted, "Did I f--- pitch tonight? Why do I have to talk to you f--- guys?"
The Mets look like they are ready for their annual free fall from playoff contention--only a little earlier this year. K-Rod is their go-to closer and his loss is a great disadvantage. Mets players, who are just getting acquainted with Santana's legal woes, now have the antics of Rodriguez to deal with. The team will have the added pressure of anticipating his next ugly meltdown. "Everyone makes mistakes," reasoned third baseman, David Wright, " He'll have to take care of things with his family." The question is which family? Rodriguez has two--his wife's and the Mets?