Braves' Rocker Suspended Until May 1st

July 7, 2008 - 7:02 PM

( - Atlanta Braves' closer John Rocker was suspended until May 1st by commissioner Bud Selig on Monday for his racial and ethnic remarks.

The Atlanta Braves' reliever also was fined and ordered to undergo sensitivity training. The amount of the fine was not disclosed.

The Major League Baseball Players' Association is expected to file a grievance over the penalty, one of the harshest levied against a player for an action not related to drug use. A grievance would force the matter before Shaym Das, baseball's new independent arbitrator.

With the regular season scheduled to begin on April 3rd , Rocker's suspension will last 28 days.

"Major league baseball takes seriously its role as an American institution and the important social responsibility that goes with it," Selig said.

"We will not dodge our responsibility. Mr. Rocker should understand that his remarks offended practically every element of society and brought dishonor to himself, the Atlanta Braves and major league baseball. The terrible example set by Mr. Rocker is not what our great game is about and, in fact, is a profound breach of the social compact we hold in such high regard."

Wire service reports indicate that, as part of the suspension, the 25-year-old pitcher is barred from joining the Braves at spring training. Reports say the commissioner's office does not want the media descending on Rocker when the Braves pitchers and catchers report to spring training in Kissimmee, FL, on February 17th.

The pitcher was ordered by Selig on January 6th to undergo psychological tests, but the results of those tests have not been disclosed.

Rocker said in a story in the December issue of Sports Illustrated that he would never play for a New York team because he didn't want to ride a subway train "next to some queer with AIDS." He also said, "I'm not a very big fan of foreigners. ... How the hell did they get in this country?" He also called a black teammate a "fat monkey."

Braves owner Ted Turner said Rocker deserves a second chance and pointed out that the reliever had apologized.
"I don't think we ought to hold it against him forever," Turner said. "He didn't commit a crime."