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Baseball investigating Clemens-Piazza incident

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Posted: Monday October 23, 2000 7:42 PM
Updated: Monday October 23, 2000 11:18 PM

  Roger Clemens The game's officials want to know more about Roger Clemens' tossing of a bat barrel toward Mets catcher Mike Piazza during Game 2. AP

NEW YORK (AP) -- Baseball started investigating Roger Clemens on Monday for throwing the barrel of Mike Piazza's shattered bat at him in Game 2 of the World Series.

"We're having everybody look into it," commissioner Bud Selig said.

Umpires did not eject the Yankees pitcher for tossing the jagged end in front of Piazza on Sunday night, but Sandy Alderson, executive vice president of baseball operations in the commissioner's office, did not rule out discipline.

"It's happened in the past," Alderson said at Shea Stadium. "That doesn't mean it will happen this time."

Umpires concluded Clemens, who beaned Piazza on July 8, did not deliberately throw the bat at him.

"He just picked up the bat and winged it," umpire crew chief Ed Montague said. "It was just an emotional deal that built over the months."

Frank Robinson, the vice president in the commissioner's office in charge of discipline, began telephoning executives from the Yankees and Mets on Monday and viewing videotapes, Alderson said.

"We're reviewing the situation and will take any appropriate action, if necessary," Alderson said. "Whatever pattern of behavior that exists or doesn't exist will be part of the review. There's a perception of a pattern of behavior in the minds of the public that has to be taken into account."

Selig did not put a timetable on the investigation.

"We're in the midst of trying to run a World Series, too," he said from Milwaukee. "I'll talk to everyone when I get back, and in the morning, before I go back."

In the past, hitters have been penalized for throwing bats at pitchers, most notably Oakland's Bert Campaneris. He was suspended for the rest of the AL playoffs in 1972 after throwing his bat at Detroit pitcher Lerrin LaGrow, who had hit him on an ankle with a pitch.

Clemens said he had not been contacted.

"It was an unusual incident. That's why I think we're approaching it with a certain amount of circumspence," Alderson said. "Intent is always difficult to establish."

Mets general manager Steve Phillips said he didn't think Clemens deliberately threw the bat fragment at his catcher.

"I understand why they didn't eject him, I really do," Phillips said.

Still, he was in favor of having Robinson review the strange toss.

Any suspension would not start until next season, because the players' association almost certainly would appeal, delaying any penalty until after a hearing before Paul Beeston, baseball's chief operating officer. Lawyers would need time to prepare for a hearing.

When Clemens was ejected in the 1990 AL playoffs by umpire Terry Cooney, who thought the pitcher was cursing at him, Clemens was suspended for five games and fined $10,000. A final ruling after two appeals was not made until the following April 26.

Gene Orza, the No. 2 official of the players' association, declined comment on Robinson's investigation, and neither commissioner Bud Selig nor Robinson returned telephone messages.

Yankees manager Joe Torre said he already had spoken with Robinson.

"He asked me what I thought and what I saw and what I felt," Torre said. "I think to be thorough about it, that's probably the right thing."

Piazza welcomed the investigation.

"Twenty, 30 years ago, it wouldn't have been an issue," he said. "This day and age, who knows?"

Mets manager Bobby Valentine refused to be drawn into the debate.

"I have never thrown anyone out of a game," he said. "And very often, I've disagreed when people have been thrown out of games. So I don't think I'm a very good arbiter in that manner."

Related information
El Duque vs. Reed in World Series Game 3
Game 2: Mets' rally comes up short in 6-5 loss
Benches clear during first Piazza-Clemens at-bat
SI's Pearlman: Clemens his vintage self, in more ways than one
Executive VP of MLB operations Sandy Alderson says the Mets didn't ask for the investigation, Frank Robinson did. (239 K)
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