Catcher Miguel Olivo was released by the Dodgers on Thursday, two days after allegedly biting off a significant piece of teammate Alex Guerrero's ear during an altercation inside the Albuquerque dugout during a triple-A game.
While Olivo's actions were condemned by Dodgers team President Stan Kasten, Guerrero received words of support from the most famous ear-biting victim in sports history, former heavyweight boxing champion Evander Holyfield.
"Hopefully, he can get over it," Holyfield said by phone from his hometown of Atlanta.
Guerrero, who underwent surgery to reattach most of the upper part of his left ear, will remain hospitalized in Salt Lake City for a few more days, according to Kasten. The next phase of the Cuban infielder's recovery will take place in Los Angeles.
Some people close to Guerrero say he is expected to be sidelined for more than a month, but the Dodgers don't have a timetable for his return.
"We won't know his longer-term timetable until Sunday," Kasten said. "They want to see first how well the graft takes."
The surgical procedure was complicated because of how much of Guerrero's ear was bitten off. "It was the whole upper part of the ear," Kasten said. "This is plastic surgery to reattach a portion of the ear and to regrow skin over it."
Guerrero was batting .376 for triple-A Albuquerque and had hit six home runs in the five games before he tangled with Olivo.
"I can tell you he feels awful, both about the incident and the fact he was doing so well," Kasten said of Guerrero.
Kasten said Olivo was "distraught," though he acknowledged he had not spoken to him.
Of what Olivo did, Kasten said, "It's unimaginable, inconceivable and, frankly, unforgivable."
Asked whether the Dodgers' investigation of the incident uncovered any fault on Guerrero's part, Kasten replied, "It's not a question of fault. As I said, the action of removing a part of someone's ear was unforgivable."
Olivo is on release waivers, which expire Saturday. Kasten wouldn't say whether the Dodgers would be obligated to pay the remainder of Olivo's salary if no other team claims the 35-year-old catcher.
Holyfield, 51, said he didn't hear about the incident until Thursday. "I'm surprised that happened in baseball," he said.
Holyfield lost a piece of his ear when it was bitten off by Mike Tyson in their infamous 1997 heavyweight championship fight.
"Getting bit just ain't right," Holyfield said.
Holyfield lost a considerably smaller piece of his ear than Guerrero did. He said he received two stitches and was able to resume training almost immediately.
After the Tyson incident, Holyfield received increased media exposure, which Guerrero probably will experience.
"The key is being able to laugh about stuff," he said.
Holyfield and Tyson shot a commercial for Footlocker that aired last winter. In the commercial, Tyson apologizes to Holyfield and returns the piece of his ear that he bit off.
Quipped Holyfield: "Maybe they can have Part 2."