Nelson, Garcia agree to probation, service

BOSTON -- Two former New York Yankees players who allegedly
assaulted a Fenway Park groundskeeper during the 2003 American
League Championship series agreed Tuesday to a deal that calls for
the charges against them to be dropped in six months.

Pitcher Jeff Nelson and outfielder Karim Garcia agreed to
pretrial probation at a hearing in Roxbury District Court. The
players will perform 50 hours of community service and be evaluated
to determine whether they need to attend an anger management

The case was scheduled to go to trial Tuesday, but the players
reached a last-minute deal with prosecutors to avoid a trial.

"While sufficient evidence exists to prove the case beyond a
reasonable doubt, the conduct of Nelson and Garcia does not merit
criminal convictions," the district attorney's office said in a

Nelson, 37, now plays for the Texas Rangers. Garcia, 28, was
released this August by the Baltimore Orioles.

After the hearing, Nelson blamed the media for the way the trial
was covered.

"We told our story in the beginning and you guys were the ones
that twisted it around, so what can I say?" he said.

"[Boston has] always been one of my favorite cities, but it's a
shame that this tarnished it a little bit."

Asked whether he felt he was treated unfairly by authorities because
he played for the Red Sox's archrivals, Nelson said, "I know you
can answer that one."

Garcia declined comment.

Assistant Attorney General David Fredette said the case was
handled the same way his office would handle any high-profile case
involving two defendants with no prior record.

"We didn't treat them any differently -- better or worse," he

Nelson and Garcia would have faced up to 2½ years in prison if

Charges were dropped last week against Paul Williams, 25, of
Derry, N.H., a part-time groundskeeper who got into the brawl with
the two players. Suffolk District Attorney Daniel Conley said a
review found there wasn't enough evidence to back up a
cross-complaint brought by Nelson against Williams, who teaches
special education at a middle school in New Hampshire.

The fight broke out after Williams cheered for the Red Sox while
in the bullpen during the third game of the ALCS on Oct. 11, 2003.
Earlier in the game, a bench-clearing melee broke out after Garcia
was plunked by Boston pitcher Pedro Martinez.

In February, Williams sued the players for more than $33,000 for
medical bills, lost wages and loss of his sense of smell. He said
the fight left him with a deviated septum, broken teeth, a neck
injury and cleat marks on his body.

Williams' attorney, Pat Jones, said the deal prosecutors struck
with Nelson and Garcia wouldn't affect his client's civil case.

Fredette told the judge that a
videotape of the fight revealed that Williams' most serious
injuries were inflicted by other players who jumped into the
fracas, not by Nelson and Garcia.

"It'd be nice of you guys to write that," Nelson told a
reporter as he walked out of the courtroom.