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Monday, May 29
Cubs tighten security all way around

CHICAGO -- John Rocker at Wrigley Field, a prescription for chaos at a baseball park that's already had a major fan-player run-in this season.

So Monday, the Chicago Cubs implemented their latest policy aimed at curbing fan rowdiness, and it coincided with the first Wrigley appearance this season of the Atlanta Braves' controversial reliever.

Less than two weeks after members of the Los Angeles Dodgers went into the stands here when a fan took catcher Chad Kreuter's hat, security was tight.

It might get even tighter.

Kevin Hallinan, head of Major League Baseball security, and members of the Cubs' security staff sat in the first row of seats behind the Braves' right-field line bullpen that is separated from fans by a chest-high brick wall.

After a fan came down the aisle and began screaming at Rocker, he was taken away by security, according to a Chicago Sun-Times reporter. He said Hallinan plans to speak with Cubs officials about tightening security in the stands around the bullpen even more.

The Cubs and Braves play again Tuesday night, the first night game at Wrigley since the incident involving the Dodgers.

Rocker got mild applause when he took the field during batting practice. Once the game started, he headed to the bullpen after the top of the first, took his seat, signed an autograph for a fan on a Braves cap and then posed for a picture.

He stretched casually in the grass behind the bullpen, but didn't get into the Braves' 1- 0 victory Monday over the Cubs, a game witnessed by 40,123 -- the largest crowd of the season at Wrigley.

"To me they are good fans," Braves reliever Mike Remlinger said. "Whether it was us or the Dodgers, once something like that happens, it's kind of preventative and after the fact. Once it happens, nobody wants it to happen again."

In the aftermath of the May 16 brawl involving the Dodgers, the Cubs had already beefed up security around the bullpen area. Nineteen members of the Dodgers were suspended for a varying number of games, and one of the fans involved has filed suit against both the Dodgers and the Cubs organization, saying he was injured in the fracas.

The new policy that went into effect Monday reduced the number of beer vendors by 10 percent; reduced vendors' inventory by 50 percent during their last trip into the stands; cut off beer sales in the bottom of the sixth instead of the top of the seventh; added more security personnel; and prohibited fans from sneaking down into lower sections from other seats.

Half an hour before Rocker emerged from the Atlanta dugout for batting practice, three security guards were stationed near the Braves' bullpen.

Atlanta manager Bobby Cox said he was not aware of any more stringent security plans.

"I don't think any more than any time we've been here," Cox said, adding he'd like to see the Rocker hype die down. "I wish it would go away, but apparently it's not."

Cubs manager Don Baylor, who was the Braves' hitting coach last season, said he didn't know how many players would be able to handle the scrutiny Rocker has endured since he made offensive comments about minorities, gays and immigrants in a Sports Illustrated article.

Rocker missed the Braves' earlier trip to Wrigley this season because he was serving a season-opening suspension stemming from the comments.

"It's a tough situation to be in -- teammate wise, visiting teams -- it's a hard situation for anybody," Baylor said.

And had he still been with the Braves, would Baylor -- who is black -- have had problems with Rocker?

"Maybe not with him, but what he said and who he said it about," Baylor said. "He jumped on a lot of guys over there who are real good guys."

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