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Ducks' Offerman suspended after assault charges

Ducks' Offerman suspended after assault charges

8:58 PM EDT, August 15, 2007
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Digg Facebook Furl Google Reddit Spurl Yahoo Print Single page view Reprints Reader feedback text size: Jose Offerman has been suspended indefinitely by the Atlantic League after a wild bat-swinging incident Tuesday night in Bridgeport, Conn. The Long Island Ducks infielder was arrested after charging the mound and injuring two players with his bat in the second inning of the Ducks' 13-12 win.

Offerman had homered on the game's first pitch. He came to bat in the second inning and after a first-pitch strike, he was hit on the left calf by left-hander Matt Beech. Bat in hand, after initially taking a couple steps toward first base, he charged the mound, taking three swings at Beech and also hitting catcher John Nathans in the back of the head during his backswing. According to Bridgeport police, Beech broke the middle finger of his right hand and Nathans suffered a concussion. Offerman, Beech and Bluefish manager Tommy John were ejected after order was restored. Nathans remained in the game but upon returning to the dugout at the end of the inning, he passed out.

Police arrested Offerman in the visiting clubhouse, allowing him to dress before taking him from the stadium in handcuffs. He was charged with two counts of assault in the second degree and posted $10,000 bond. He will be arraigned Aug. 23. According to Connecticut assistant state's attorney Mark Durso, second-degree assault carries a maximum sentence of up to five years per charge.
Beech said the entire episode shocked him since he had faced Offerman many times before in the Atlantic League and Dominican Republic without incident.

"I had absolutely no intent to hit Jose Offerman," Beech said. "As soon as he got hit, he raised the bat over his head and ran toward me. He didn't say anything, just came running at me. My only thought was to get out of the way and try not to get hit with the bat. I've never been more surprised in my life."

While the initial concern was for Beech, Nathans turned out to be the more serious victim. Bluefish officials expect Nathans to miss the remainder of the season, while Beech expects to make his next start, pending the investigation.

"Everyone was fearful for Matt Beech because apparently something set Offerman off, because he's played a long time and nobody could believe what they were seeing," said Bluefish pitcher Mike Porzio. "Unfortunately, though, he got out to the mound before we could. Luckily for Matt Beech, he was agile enough to dodge a bat. But it may have only been John Nathans taking one on the backswing in the head to have saved Matt Beech from really taking one in the face."

The ultimate issue is the bat. Had Offerman charged the mound without a bat, the entire incident most likely would not have been the focus of the media and there wouldn't have been news conferences held in Central Islip and Bridgeport.

"This type of thing happens but you don't go toward the mound with a bat," said Frank Boulton, the Ducks' principal owner and chief executive of the league. "It was not unprovoked but in no way do the Long Island Ducks condone Jose Offerman's actions."

John said that a pitcher intentionally hitting a batter is part of the game but doubted that was the case here.

"If you're going to hit somebody, you're not going to hit him on the calf," John said on ESPN's "First Take." "If you're incensed and think the pitcher's throwing at you, you drop the bat."

Torii Hunter, who played with Offerman on the Minnesota Twins and has remained friends with him, was shocked. "There's demons in everybody," Hunter said.

It is unclear how police arrested Offerman immediately after the incident. Boulton wasn't sure who signed the complaint, while John said that Beech and Nathans filed charges. Bluefish chief executive Mary-Jan Foster immediately called for Offerman's ban from the league. Atlantic League executive director Joe Klein is in Bridgeport speaking with the umpires and all parties involved. At an afternoon news conference, he said he hadn't spoken with Offerman but expected to by day's end.

"The unwritten rule is like hockey, you drop the gloves," Klein said. "This is with the bat and we have to find the trigger that caused it to happen."

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