K-Rod needs to start living up to his pledge of being a better person
NEW YORK -- As Mets closer
It could have been worse. The crowd appeared to be somewhat thinned and otherwise lulled to apathy by a dominant outing from Philadelphia's
"That's something I cannot control," K-Rod said of the reception. "Every time I do my job, I feel fine. But at the same time it's not as satisfying as when you win, so we're just going to turn the page and tomorrow try to win this series."
Those were among two minutes of postgame questions he took from reporters, responding only to queries about baseball. That was more than twice the amount of time he spoke before the game, in which he apologized for his behavior but took no questions.
"He was very apologetic as to the position that he put us in," Mets manager
Manuel, of course, apparently didn't need such an apology to put K-Rod back in the game. In advance of Thursday's 12:10 p.m. matinee against the Rockies, Manuel met the media at 11 a.m. and said he would have no hesitation pitching Rodriguez that afternoon if he were available, only for the club to suspend him an hour later.
Saturday's pregame apology was the very least the $37-million closer could do after instigating a surreal scene Wednesday night in which Rodriguez was arrested for assaulting his girlfriend's father,
Reports in the New York media differ on what precipitated the alleged attack -- the
That type of behavior is unacceptable anywhere, but especially intolerable where it happened: in the family lounge, witnessed by girlfriends, wives, parents and children of his teammates.
Before Saturday night's game, Rodriguez stood in a cramped interview room near the Mets clubhouse, clad in a team-logo t-shirt and without his trademark glasses. In what essentially amounted to a spoken statement, he apologized to the three principal owners by name, then gave a general apology to three other groups (fans, teammates and the front office) for the "embarrassment" that he caused, adding, "I'm looking forward to being a better person."
He did not publicly apologize to his girlfriend's father -- the alleged victim -- or his girlfriend. One can only hope those apologies were given privately.
Rodriguez also acknowledged that he would enter a program for anger management but couldn't speak about the ongoing legal issues.
In all he spoke for 54 seconds, which is exactly three times the number of words Mets chief operating officer
"Ownership and the organization are very disappointed in Francisco's inappropriate behavior and we take this matter very seriously," Wilpon said in the team release.
After his comments, Rodriguez then retreated to the clubhouse where he spoke to a clubhouse attendant about his gear and probably hoped he could have a normal rest of the day. After the drama of the week -- which included moving out of his Long Island home after a judge issued a restraining order against him on behalf of his girlfriend -- K-Rod was probably most comfortable here. Later in the afternoon, he slunk back in his clubhouse chair, his right leg dangling over the armrest, and tapped away at his phone, the ballplayer's common pregame ritual.
"It's good to have him back," starter
Manuel said he believed K-Rod would apologize to teammates individually, though none seemed to have received such an apology by the time the clubhouse closed to the media an hour before the first pitch.
"That's something that's personal," Rodriguez said. "I don't think I have to share with you."
And not every Mets player felt he needed to receive such a personal admission.
"Maybe for some people whose families were in there and saw that, an apology might be appropriate for them," Pelfrey said. "My family wasn't in there, so he doesn't owe me anything."
The wife and children of shortstop
"Not yet," Reyes said. "I didn't really talk to him. I said hello to him. I don't want to be in his way because some of the things right now in his head."
From a strictly baseball sense K-Rod's return is undoubtedly welcome for the Mets, whose offense has been so anemic that every run saved is precious. He's having a fine season, too, with 25 saves and a 2.20 ERA in 57 1/3 innings.
"We need him here," Reyes said. "He's our closer and the closer was not out there in the bullpen [the last two days], so it's good to see him back. Whatever problem he had, he put in the past. He's here to play baseball right now."
K-Rod was not missed during his two-game suspension. The Mets received complete-game shutouts from
But one has to wonder if the club -- which is eight games off the pace for the wild card and thus not nearly out of contention -- is really best served with such a combustible personality back so soon. If K-Rod is truly contrite, that's one thing, but he needs to know how short the leash is. One source told the
After all, though this was the most severe, it was not the first example of Rodriguez's temper getting the best of him. Earlier this year K-Rod got into a heated exchange with bullpen coach
And so the Mets should have made Rodriguez be more accountable after one of those previous incidents. Better late than never, of course, but K-Rod now needs to be held to the standard he spoke of on Saturday about being a better person. The Mets still owe their closer at least $15 million after this season -- $11.5 million in 2011 and at least a $3.5 million buyout, if not the staggering $17.5 million option for 2012 -- and with the team out of the playoff race, it's time they started protecting their investment.