Kenny Rogers was suspended for 20 games and fined $50,000 by Major League Baseball on Friday for his violent actions that sent a television cameraman to the hospital and prompted a police investigation.
Before Wednesday night’s game against the Los Angeles Angels, the veteran southpaw shoved two cameramen in a tirade that included throwing a camera to the ground, kicking it and threatening to break more.
“Mr. Rogers’ behavior was unprofessional, unwarranted and completely unacceptable,” commissioner Bud Selig said in a statement. “Major League Baseball is a social institution and all of us in the game have an important responsibility to act with reason and good judgment.”
The suspension was among the most severe imposed by the commissioner’s office for on-field conduct in decades—only the 30-day penalty given Cincinnati manager Pete Rose in 1988 for pushing umpire Dave Pallone was longer.
The players’ union filed an appeal on behalf of Rogers, who can keep pitching until the appeal is heard. He is expected to make his scheduled start on Sunday.
“We’ve made it clear from the beginning this was an unacceptable behavior for the club,” Rangers general manager John Hart said. “I know Kenny, as evidenced by his statements, has expressed remorse. The commissioner has spoken and we’re going to move forward from there.”
Rogers was in the Rangers’ locker room Friday, but would not comment about the suspension. He walked out of the dugout past a group of TV cameramen without incident, on his way to the Rangers’ bullpen.
“He threw very well and was in decent spirits considering what’s going on,” pitching coach Orel Hershiser said. “He’s very quiet right now. He’s just focusing on what he needs to be to be a pitcher.”
The 17-year veteran had won a career-best nine straight decisions before a 6-0 loss to the Los Angeles Angels Sunday. He led the league in ERA for much of the season and was a potential All-Star starter.
“Any suspension of this length is definitely going to hurt our club because Kenny is our best pitcher,” said shortstop Michael Young. “We’re all going to stick by Kenny.”
“We hope the suspension is reduced,” Rangers manager Buck Showalter said. “Hopefully, we won’t have to deal with it until after the All-Star break.”
The Mariners have lost six straight and seven of eight, dropping to a season-worst 12 games under .500.