Rocker admits to throwing water at Seattle fans
Updated: Thursday October 11, 2001 10:38 PM
SEATTLE (AP) -- Here's a new twist: John Rocker felt insulted.
Rocker, Cleveland's controversial reliever whose insensitive remarks in a 1999 Sports Illustrated article made him baseball's bad boy, threw water on heckling fans during Game 1 of the Indians' playoff series against the Mariners on Tuesday.
Rocker said fans standing near the visitors' bullpen at Safeco Field also yelled taunted him and some of his teammates during Seattle's Game 2 win Thursday.
The visitors' bullpen at Safeco Field has a chain-link fence behind it, and fans can stand at it during the game with an unobstructed view as the pitchers warm up.
It's considered one of the worst bullpens in the league because hecklers are so close.
"It's pretty brutal," Rocker said. "But you get used to it."
Rocker, though, said fans aren't solely to blame. He said he's gotten a bad rap in the media, which has slanted its stories against him since the infamous SI piece.
"You guys should see the monster you've helped create," Rocker said to a small group of reporters in Cleveland's clubhouse. "They wouldn't be there if not for the biased coverage, so thank you for making my life on the road hell."
Before the game, Indians manager Charlie Manuel said Rocker admitted he threw water toward fans on Tuesday.
"He said they were really screaming and hollering at him and he got tired of it," said Manuel, who told Rocker he won't condone such actions. "I told him he definitely won't do that again, and he said he wouldn't. You have to be professional about things."
The Indians asked for extra security near the bullpen for Thursday's game but that didn't stop the abuse, Rocker said.
He said fans also targeted Indians closer Bob Wickman.
Major league baseball spokeswoman Phyllis Mehrige said Sandy Alderson, executive vice president of baseball operations, was aware of Rocker throwing water.
Mehrige said Alderson was discussing the incident with security personnel but she didn't know if there would be any disciplinary action against Rocker.
Mehrige was unaware of an e-mail sent by a Mariners' season-ticket holder to Frank Robinson, baseball's disciplinarian, that gave an account of Rocker's behavior as well as what fans were saying.
The fan, Jimbo Jones, told Robinson, "a near riot ensued as people became livid at his actions. Literally, old ladies and little kids joined in on the flurry of attacks and hostility directed at Mr. Rocker."
Jones said he had never seen Seattle crowds "get so ugly. Death threats were issued, threats of bodily harm, etc."
Before he threw water, Rocker tossed about 10 balls to fans standing near the bullpen.
Rob Jepson, 37, of North Bend, Wash., said several fans were chanting "Rocker Racist" at the pitcher.
"He wasn't being a creep," Jepson said, sitting in his left-field seat before Game 2. "He didn't start anything."
Rocker said he has tried to change his image, but he said stories about him are always negative.
Except for meeting with the Cleveland media when he was first traded to the Indians, Rocker has avoided reporters and kept to himself. He said he wanted a fresh start, but wasn't given one.
"I made a meager attempt," he said. "Now I don't even want to bother. I'm so frustrated."
He went 3-7 with a 5.45 ERA in 38 games, but the Indians felt he could help them in the playoffs. Rocker has not allowed an earned run in 19 2/3 career innings in the postseason, and has three saves.