Maybe the only place Kenny Rogers can find some peace is on the mound.
Just days removed from his second confrontation with a television cameraman in three weeks, Rogers is scheduled to take the ball for the Texas Rangers when they open a four-game series with the surging Oakland Athletics.
Rogers turned himself in Monday to Arlington police on misdemeanor assault charges stemming from a June 29 shoving incident with two cameramen. However, as he was being booked the 40-year-old left-hander jawed at a cameraman for Dallas-Fort Worth television station WFAA. Just as with the incident that led to the charges, the exchange was caught on tape.
In the latest run-in, WFAA reported on its Web site Monday that photographer Mike Zukerman was videotaping the procedure when Rogers turned to him and said, “You’re getting really close; you know that? Do you hear me?”
A few seconds later, Rogers again turned to the camera, saying, “You must be pretty proud of yourself, too.”
After Zukerman replied, “It’s just my job, Kenny,” Rogers responded: “Yeah. Your job. That’s just your excuse.”
Commissioner Bud Selig suspended Rogers 20 games for his role in the June 29 incident. Rogers’ appeal of the ban will be heard Friday in Milwaukee.
All the off-the-field problems have turned the focus away from what has been an outstanding season for Rogers (11-4, 2.54 ERA). He has continued to pitch pending the appeal, and even threw an inning in the All-Star game last week.
Rogers allowed six hits in seven innings to lead the Rangers past the Athletics 10-8 on Saturday.
“Kenny has probably been the MVP of this club,” Rangers shortstop Michael Young said. “I don’t know where we’d be without him. Whenever we need a well-pitched game and it’s Kenny’s turn, we’re in good shape.”
The Rangers will need a well-pitched game Thursday after losing 8-4 to the New York Yankees on Wednesday. Right-hander Joaquin Benoit gave up four home runs for Texas, which has dropped its last two series and five of seven games overall.
Only Rogers’ plight could take the spotlight away from the red-hot A’s. Oakland took over second place in the AL West with Wednesday’s 3-0 win over the first-place Los Angeles Angels.
The A’s enter Thursday’s game with a major league-best 32-13 record since May 29, when they were 17-32 and 12 1/2 games out of first place in the AL West.
“I think everybody was trying to do too much the first couple of months, trying to hit five-run homers and get four hits in one at-bat,” catcher Jason Kendall said. “But right now, everyone’s doing what they’re capable of doing— and when they don’t, guys are picking each other up. Our pitching’s been really good, we’ve been playing good defense and getting timely hitting. We’re having fun.”