NEW YORK – Mets closer Francisco Rodriguez was charged Wednesday with seven counts of criminal contempt for sending his girlfriend dozens of text messages begging for forgiveness, violating a restraining order issued after he was accused of attacking her father at Citi Field.
Rodriguez, who wore a studded T-shirt and a gold chain, did not enter a plea at his arraignment. He posted the $7,500 bail almost immediately and left Queens court without speaking. A new protection order was issued barring him from contacting Daian Pena and her family.
The 28-year-old reliever was accused of grabbing Pena's father, 53-year-old Carlos Pena, hauling him into a tunnel near the family lounge beneath the team's new ballpark and hitting him in the face after a game Aug. 11.
Rodriguez was told to keep away from Carlos Pena and his daughter. But a week after he appeared in court, he sent her two text messages and kept going, sending 56 in all.
Assistant District Attorney Scott Kessler said Rodriguez understood he wasn't supposed to contact her, but did it anyway simply because he felt like it. Kessler also said that the pitcher has a history of abuse, mentioning a previous case where he was accused of assaulting Pena in Venezuela.
"He's not naive or loving. He's manipulative and controlling," Kessler said.
Pena never responded to the messages, which included 17 sent in one day alone, Kessler said.
The messages started out contrite, but got progressively angrier. "Thank you for sinking me turning your back, take good care of my children ... and now I see that your were with me because of the money ..." he wrote in the final message on Aug. 23, according to Kessler.
Rodriguez could be jailed if he has any further communication with Pena. The restraining order is in place until at least February.
Defense attorney Christopher Booth said in court that the case wasn't about Daian Pena, and ordering Rodriguez to keep away from her and their twins confused the situation. He said his client wasn't clear he wasn't supposed to try to resolve the issue.
"There are no threats, no menacing comments. There are more text messages of the defendant professing his love," he said.
The accusations are costing Rodriguez about $3.1 million so far. He was restricted for two days without pay after his initial arrest and was booed when he returned to the mound. He apologized to fans, but tore a ligament in his thumb of his pitching hand during the fight, and had to have season-ending surgery.
The Mets said they wouldn't pay him while on the disqualified list. They also exercised a contractual right to convert the rest of his $37 million, three-year deal to nonguaranteed, meaning they could try to avoid paying most of what's left on it.
By converting his contract, the Mets also gave themselves the ability to release Rodriguez in the early part of spring training next year for 30 days' termination pay.
The players' union filed a grievance protesting how the team has handled the case.
Rodriguez signed the contract with the Mets after saving 62 games with the Angels in 2008. He was 4-2 with 25 saves and a 2.24 ERA this season.