Mets pitcher Francisco Rodriguez may be inching closer to putting some of his legal problems behind him. His attorney said he is working with the district attorney's office on a plea bargain before Rodriguez's Nov. 10 court date.
The pitcher, who appeared in Queens Criminal Court Thursday morning, faces assault and harassment charges after allegedly punching his children's grandfather, Carlos Peña, 53, in the face in a tunnel at Citi Field after an Aug. 11 game. Prosecutors say Rodriguez later violated an order of protection by texting his then-fiancee, Daian Peña, 56 times in a week. If convicted of all charges, he could face up to two years in jail.
"Our hope [is that] between now and [Nov. 10], there will be a resolution," said Rodriguez's attorney, Christopher Booth. "I'm hopeful . . . I think I can close the deal."
Although Booth did not provide details, he said "all parties believe they can work out their differences" and that Rodriguez is attending anger management classes of his own volition.
At the pretrial hearing, Judge Robert Raciti upheld the restraining order, which is in place until at least March. A stoic Rodriguez, in a gray and white T-shirt and jeans, sat in the courtroom's back row and did not speak publicly.
Rodriguez, 28, pleaded not guilty to all charges at his August and September arraignments. Besides the assault and harassment charges, he was hit with seven charges of criminal contempt for the texting. He posted $7,500 bail in addition to the $5,000 he posted after his arrest.
The Mets suspended Rodriguez for two games without pay (costing him roughly $125,000). After pitching an inning Aug. 14, three days after the incident, he missed the rest of the season because he tore a ligament in his pitching thumb during the fight. The Mets are exploring voiding the rest of his three-year, $37-million contract but face opposition from the players' union.
The situation has taken its toll on the reliever, Booth said. Rodriguez goes to anger management classes at least once a week, he said. "He's not familiar with the criminal process and he doesn't know the intricacies," Booth said. "His focus is on a way to be fair to everyone - fair to his children and fair to his family."
Rodriguez has two daughters with Peña; both are in her care, though there have been no custody hearings. The restraining order makes seeing his children difficult, Booth said.
Prosecutors said Rodriguez has a history of violence dating to his time in his native Venezuela, where he was the subject of a 2005 restraining order.
"He's trying to make himself a better person for his kids and for his family," Booth said. "He wants to move forward and see his children."