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Martinez Is Sorry for His Role in Brawl Last Season

Royal infielder Felix Martinez apologized Tuesday for sucker-punching former Angel utility player Frank Bolick during a brawl between the teams June 2, 1998. The melee resulted in numerous ejections and suspensions.

“I felt bad about it,” said Martinez, who was banished to the minor leagues the day after the fight and didn’t return to Kansas City until this month. “Everybody looked at me as a bad guy. I’m not a bad person, like everyone thinks. Everyone makes mistakes in life.”

This was a mistake Royal Manager Tony Muser expects Martinez to pay for. Muser said “it’s not my intent” to play Martinez against the Angels in this series--though he was put into the second game of Tuesday’s doubleheader as a pinch-runner in the ninth inning. If Martinez pinch-hits, Muser won’t be surprised if the Angels throw at him.

“The best memory you’ll find is in a ballplayer’s mind,” Muser said. “If the Angels retaliate, that’s part of baseball. If he gets plunked, he will understand. He’ll take his lumps, go to first and move on. I know it’s not directed toward the organization.”

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If Martinez gets hit, he says he won’t charge the mound.

“I understand that’s part of the game,” Martinez said. “I just want to forget everything and move forward.”

*

Knuckleballer Steve Sparks’ season is over--his Angel career may be too--after an MRI test revealed a torn rotator cuff in his right shoulder. Team physician Lewis Yocum has recommended therapy instead of surgery, but Sparks, who is nearing the end of a one-year contract, won’t be able to throw again until December.

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“My biggest advantage is, I don’t have to rely on velocity,” Sparks said. “For a lot of guys, that’s the biggest hurdle when they come back from this. I don’t see any reason why I can’t come back 100%.”

Sparks, who is 5-11 with a 5.42 earned run average, believes he injured the shoulder while fielding a grounder in Boston on Aug. 28. He said he “felt a jolt in my neck and arm.” The shoulder worsened after another start and a relief appearance, and Sparks was sent home Sunday.

“A lot of things have been swimming through my mind the last few hours but I’m getting more positive about going through this,” he said. “It’s not going to be easy.”

TONIGHT

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ANGELS’

CHUCK FINLEY

(9-11, 6.45 ERA)

vs.

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ROYALS’

BLAKE STEIN

(0-1, 15.75 ERA)

Kauffman Stadium,

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Kansas City, Mo., 5 p.m.

Radio--KLAC (570), XPRS (1090).

* Update--Outstanding relief pitching played a major role in the Angels’ victory in the first game Tuesday. Al Levine replaced starter Tim Belcher in the third inning and gave up only one run on five hits in four innings, Lou Pote threw two scoreless innings to gain his first major league victory, and Shigetoshi Hasegawa added a hitless ninth for his second save in two days. Finley is 4-1 with a 1.74 ERA since July 31.


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