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Guerrero Gets Suspension of 4 Days, Fine

May 25, 1988|SAM McMANIS | Times Staff Writer

PHILADELPHIA — Dodger slugger Pedro Guerrero, who threw his bat at New York Mets pitcher David Cone after Cone hit him with a pitch last Sunday, was suspended for four days and fined $1,000 Tuesday by National League President Bart Giamatti.

Guerrero, the Dodgers' leader in batting average at .326 and runs batted in with 26, waived his right to appeal and began serving his suspension Tuesday night, when the Dodgers opened a three-game series with a 12-inning 2-1 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies at Veterans Stadium.

"I know I did something wrong," Guerrero said. "I should've never done it, but it's too late now. At the time, I was very upset. I lost my head."

The term of Guerrero's suspension is listed simply as four days, not four games. He will be allowed to resume play Saturday night in Montreal.

Although Guerrero is allowed to travel and associate with the team and take batting practice, he must leave the clubhouse before game time and is allowed to watch games only from the stands.

In announcing the suspension, the first this season for a player in either league, Giamatti said that Guerrero's actions could not be condoned. "A bat can become a potentially lethal weapon, one against which another player really has no defense," his statement read. "We cannot countenance using any piece of equipment in a way for which it is not intended, particularly when such a use is so dangerous."

The Dodgers will pay Guerrero during his suspension, but the club will not contest the suspension. Dodger Manager Tom Lasorda said he agreed with Giamatti's ruling.

"I can't condone him throwing the bat," Lasorda said. "He shouldn't throw it. He knows that. I know Pete feels bad about doing it. . . . I wouldn't want anyone doing that to my pitcher."

The last time a player was suspended for throwing a bat at a pitcher was during the 1972 American League championship series. Bert Campaneris of the Oakland A's threw his bat at Detroit pitcher Lerrin LaGrow after being hit on the ankle with a pitch.

Campaneris was suspended for the final three games of the playoffs, allowed to play in the World Series and suspended without pay for the first seven games of the 1973 season.

Guerrero's suspension hit the Dodgers at an especially inopportune time. Shortstop Alfredo Griffin is out for a month after breaking a bone in his right hand. And after losing 5 of the last 6 during a home stand and falling out of first place in the National League West, the Dodgers need a strong showing on this nine-game Eastern trip.

Lasorda started Jeff Hamilton at third base in place of Guerrero. Hamilton had 1 hit in 17 at-bats going into Tuesday night's game, in which he went 1 for 5.

In explaining why he did not seek an appeal, Guerrero said: "I just wanted to get it over with. I knew I was going to get suspended. I just didn't know how long. I don't want to miss many games if I don't have to."

Despite the news, Guerrero was in good spirits when he arrived at Veterans Stadium early Tuesday afternoon. Approached by a reporter whom he had yelled at earlier in the day, a smiling Guerrero wrote no comment on a piece of paper and taped it to his chest.

Later, though, Guerrero had a news conference, during which he repeatedly said action should have been taken against Cone for hitting him.

"The only thing I'm concerned about is, these things happen and pitchers don't get anything," he said. "I mean, I'm being suspended for four days, and (Cone) is still going to be pitching.

"We now got a guy (Griffin) who was hit the other night, and he's out 21 days. (The Mets) still have their whole team."

Griffin's injury was a major part of his motivation for throwing his bat at Cone, Guerrero said.

Last Saturday night, Met pitcher Dwight Gooden hit Griffin on the hand with a rising fastball. A half-inning later, Dodger pitcher Brian Holton hit Met infielder Howard Johnson in the right leg with a pitch, prompting a warning from the umpiring crew.

The next day, the Dodgers trailed the Mets, 5-0, in the sixth inning when Cone threw a high, inside fastball that Guerrero avoided. Two pitches later, Cone threw a slow curve that hit Guerrero on the left shoulder.

Guerrero reared back and threw his bat at Cone. The bat sailed wide left, stopping near Met shortstop Kevin Elster. Cone tried to calm Guerrero by yelling that the pitch was a curveball and was not intentional. But Guerrero, after hesitating a moment, charged the mound.

It took teammate Mike Marshall, Dodger coach Joe Ferguson and Met catcher Barry Lyons to restrain Guerrero, as players from both teams rushed onto the field. After a 5-minute delay, Guerrero was ejected.

"I don't care what he hit me with," Guerrero said. "It was a curveball, so what? I just don't want to get hit. They have all the advantages, pitchers do. They can hit the hitters and nothing happens."

Cone told New York reporters Tuesday night that he hopes the episode will be forgotten.

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