Long Island Ducks release John Rocker

CENTRAL ISLIP, New York (Ticker) - John Rocker’s stay in the New York area lasted less than three months.

The controversial reliever, who made disparaging remarks about New York and its baseball fans in a 1999 Sports Illustrated article, was released by the Long Island Ducks of the Independent Atlantic League on Monday.

Hoping to revive his career, Rocker signed with the Ducks on April 8.

However, after going 0-2 with a 6.50 ERA in 23 games, Rocker decided to take a step away from baseball and the team responded by releasing him.

“After pitching for two months with the Long Island Ducks, the consistency required to pitch at the major league level, and the consistency I demand from myself, are not where they should be,” Rocker said. “As a result, I have elected to take a step back and re-evaluate the options available to me.

“I would like to offer a heartfelt thanks to the Long Island fans for being so supportive and accepting. The warm welcome I received here on Long Island went beyond all my expectations.”

Rocker forever will be linked with the Sports Illustrated article in which the former Atlanta Braves closer blasted New York, criticizing the city from everything from its pace to ethnic diversity.

For his remarks, Rocker was suspended by Commissioner Bud Selig for 14 games.

The comments also put teammates in an awkward position and the one-time elite closer was traded from Atlanta to Cleveland midway through the 2001 season.

Rocker, 30, spent one season in Cleveland and another in Texas but had been out of baseball since appearing in two games for Tampa Bay early in 2003. He took all of 2004 off while recovering from left shoulder surgery.

“We respect John’s decision,” Ducks principal owner Frank Boulton said. “Obviously, we’re disappointed we didn’t return him to the majors. We know the talent is there and I’m sure we haven’t heard the last from John in baseball. We wish him the best in all of his future endeavors.”

In 1999, Rocker saved a career-high 38 games for the Braves. He is 13-22 with 88 saves and a 3.42 ERA in 280 career games.

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Updated Monday, Jun 27, 2005