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Open that wallet

Valentine will handle Benitez manner internally

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Posted: Monday October 11, 1999 06:02 PM


NEW YORK (AP) -- Armando Benitez had awful timing, both on and off the field.

The New York Mets' closer, who nearly blew Game 4 of the NL playoffs, will be fined for showing up only a half-hour before game time Saturday.

"You don't come late without a fine," Mets manager Bobby Valentine said Sunday, a day after the Mets completed their first-round series win over Arizona. "There will be a fine, and we'll handle that internally."

Because Game 3 was played Friday night and Saturday's game started just after 1 p.m. ET, batting practice was optional before Game 4. Players were required to be in uniform for pregame stretching at about 11:45 a.m.

"I would say he was at least 45 minutes later," Valentine said. "It wasn't the greatest news before a game."

Valentine didn't seem interested in the reason for the tardiness.

"I'm sure he was not there on time because he left his house late," Valentine said.

He said he had not yet spoken with the reliever and Valentine wouldn't talk about the amount of the fine.

"The discipline is really none of anybody's business," he said.

After Benitez finally arrived at Shea Stadium, Valentine's concern was finding out whether he was healthy and available to pitch.

Benitez entered in the eighth inning with a 2-1 lead, but allowed a two-run double to Jay Bell. He then pitched the ninth.

"I was really happy to see the second inning," Valentine said, referring to the ninth. "I was on pins and needles to make the decision to have him go out there, not because they hit two balls solid, because that I was unsure of his condition. So I rolled the dice to send him out there."

Meanwhile, Valentine and general manager Steve Phillips did not know if third-base coach Cookie Rojas would be fined for his altercation with left-field umpire Charlie Williams in the bottom of the eighth.

After Williams called Darryl Hamilton's liner with two on a foul ball -- replays showed it was the correct call - Rojas argued vehemently. After he was ejected, the coach gave Williams a two-handed push and needed several Mets to restrain him.

NL president Len Coleman planned to review videotape of the argument on Monday.

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