Mets' K-Rod pleads guilty to attempted assault

NEW YORK - (AP) - Mets closer Francisco Rodriguez avoided jailFriday by pleading guilty to attempted assault after he was accusedof attacking his girlfriend's father at Citi Field last season.

The 28-year-old reliever was accused of grabbing Carlos Pena,hauling him into a tunnel near the family lounge beneath the team'sballpark and punching him in the face after an Aug. 11 game.

He tore a ligament in the thumb of his pitching hand andunderwent season-ending surgery.

The incident cost the four-time All Star more than $3.14million, in addition to more than seven weeks on the sidelines. Andhe's spent months trying to repair his image, apologizing to fansand to the league repeatedly.

Rodriguez also pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct for sendingdozens of text messages begging his girlfriend Daian Pena forforgiveness 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 mychildren ... and now I see that your were with me because of themoney ..." he wrote in the final message on Aug. 23, according tothe Queens district attorney's office.

Daian Pena, who is the mother of twins with Rodriguez, neverresponded.

The judge ordered Rodriguez to keep away from her.

He was sentenced to a conditional discharge, meaning as long ashe completes treatment he will stay out of jail. Rodriguez alreadyhad been taking anger management classes, according to hisattorney, Christopher Booth.

Rodriguez left court without speaking to reporters. "Mr. Rodriguez is very glad to have this incident behind him,"Booth said. "He's looking forward to the 2011 season."

The Mets issued a statement that said, "We are pleased thatFrancisco has accepted responsibility for his actions. We areencouraged that he will continue to undergo therapy and iscommitted to taking steps to improve himself."

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

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

The players' union had filed a grievance protesting how the teamhandled the case after the Mets refused to pay him on thedisqualified list, and tried to exercise a contractual right toconvert the rest of his $37 million, three-year deal tononguaranteed, meaning they could try to avoid paying most ofwhat's left on it.

The grievance was settled Oct. 19. Under the agreement betweenMajor League Baseball and the players' association, the Metsstopped trying to convert the remainder of the contract tononguaranteed.

Rodriguez is expected to pitch this season. He signed with theMets after saving 62 games with the Angels in 2008. He was 4-2 with25 saves and a 2.24 ERA last season.

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