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12 Dodgers Get Pardon on Appeal

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Succeeding in the appeal process, the Dodgers were relieved Thursday when major league baseball reduced sweeping penalties issued against the club after its brawl with fans in the stands at Wrigley Field in Chicago.

They persuaded the commissioner’s office to lessen the largest mass suspension--totaling 89 games--stemming from one brawl in baseball history. The suspensions were reduced to 45 games. However, baseball did not reduce $77,000 in fines levied against the club.

Paul Beeston, baseball’s chief operating officer, sided with the Dodgers in overturning suspensions of 11 of 16 players and one of three coaches facing disciplinary action handed down by Frank Robinson, baseball’s vice president of on-field operations, for their roles in a May 16 melee with fans in a game against the Cubs.

The commissioner’s office announced Beeston’s ruling after last week’s two-day appeal hearings in Houston.

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Beeston did not return phone calls. Robinson said he accepts Beeston’s ruling and supports the process.

“This is the appeal process, and I abide by it because that’s the way the appeal process works,” said Robinson, who attended the appeal hearings. “When you have an appeal, the person hearing it can either uphold your decision, overturn it or agree with parts of it.

“Paul Beeston obviously felt differently than I did about it. He may have looked at certain things one way, and I may have looked at them in another way, but I accept that. Again, that’s the process.”

The Dodgers initially stood to lose players for a total of 60 games, leaving them short-handed at times because suspended players cannot be replaced. Beeston reduced the number to 24, and the Dodgers said that helps.

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“When we got the first suspensions, it was devastating,” Chairman Robert Daly said. “It was 16 players, 60 days, three coaches, 24 days, and that pretty much laid out whom we could play and whom we couldn’t play for a month. Now, after the [appeal] hearing, I’m happier.

“I wouldn’t say I’m totally happy, though. I would have been happy if all the suspensions were overturned. I would be happy if we were facing nothing. But I think this [Beeston’s ruling] is more in line with the incident. I still think some of the penalties are stiff, but there’s nothing we can do about it now. We’ve done what we can.”

Pitchers Terry Adams, Darren Dreifort, Eric Gagne, Onan Masaoka, Alan Mills (traded to the Baltimore Orioles on June 13), Antonio Osuna and Chan Ho Park; outfielders Geronimo Berroa and Shawn Green; catcher Todd Hundley; and first baseman Eric Karros had three-game suspensions overturned. They each still face $3,000 in fines.

Coach Glenn Hoffman also had an eight-game suspension eliminated. Hoffman owes $5,000 in fines.

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But the Dodgers couldn’t claim total victory because several suspensions remain in effect.

Chad Kreuter, who ignited the ninth-inning altercation by entering the stands to detain a fan who struck him on the back of his head and took his cap, received an eight-game suspension and a $5,000 fine that Beeston upheld. Coaches Rick Dempsey and John Shelby also were suspended for eight games and fined $5,000 each.

Pitcher Carlos Perez, outfielder F.P. Santangelo and outfielder Gary Sheffield were suspended for five games and fined $5,000 each. Pitcher Mike Fetters was suspended for four games and fined $4,000, but Beeston reduced the suspension to one game.

In addition, nonroster bullpen catcher Travis Barbary remains suspended for five games. He was fined $5,000.

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The players and coaches are responsible for their fines. The Dodgers are paying Barbary’s fine.

Sheffield was especially upset that Beeston did not rule in his favor. The all-star left fielder struggled to compose himself in the clubhouse after the ruling was announced.

“I felt like I was probably the calmest guy on the field,” said Sheffield, who was consoled by pitcher Kevin Brown and catcher Jim Leyritz. “My teammates were in danger and I was trying to get them out of danger. There were drunken fans around them, and my first reaction was to get the guys out of there.

“First I’m suspended without them even talking to me, and this response to what I had to say [in the appeal hearing]. I mean, what is that? Is this like a slap in my face, or a slap in the whole organization’s face? I really don’t know how to take it.”

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Not satisfied with Beeston’s ruling, the Major League Players Assn. filed another appeal on behalf of the players.

A hearing date will be set after the union and the commissioner’s office determine whether the next appeal will be heard by Commissioner Bud Selig or an independent arbitrator.

Players remain active while the process unfolds. Kreuter had been scheduled to begin serving his suspension Thursday; Sheffield on July 7; Perez on July 16; Fetters on July 21 and Santangelo on July 22.

The coaches have no further recourse.

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First base coach Shelby began serving his suspension Thursday night in a game against the San Diego Padres at Dodger Stadium. Shelby is eligible to resume his duties July 8.

Dempsey, the bullpen coach, begins serving his suspension July 8. He can return July 18. Barbary will begin his suspension July 20.

“It’s better, but it could have been a lot better,” Manager Davey Johnson said. “Any loss is a big loss, whether it’s a coach or player.

“And losing Sheff in any scenario, for any amount of time, tremendously hurts us. It’s a big blow.”

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(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

SUSPENSION REVISIONS

Paul Beeston, baseball’s chief operating officer, ruled Thursday on the Dodgers’ appeal of suspensions handed down May 24 as punishment for May 16 incident at Wrigley Field. Some suspensions were overruled or reduced, but all fines ($3,000 to $5,000) were upheld.

BEFORE AFTER Chad Kreuter 8 8 Rick Dempsey (coach) 8 8 John Shelby (coach) 8 8 Glenn Hoffman (coach) 8 0 Carlos Perez 5 5 F.P. Santangelo 5 5 Gary Sheffield 5 5 Mike Fetters 4 1 Terry Adams 3 0 Geronimo Berroa 3 0 Darren Dreifort 3 0 Eric Gagne 3 0 Shawn Green 3 0 Todd Hundley 3 0 Eric Karros 3 0 Onan Masaoka 3 0 Alan Mills 3 0 Antonio Osuna 3 0 Chan Ho Park 3 0 *

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Staff writer Ross Newhan contributed to this story.


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