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Wednesday, June 7
Cox: 'He's going to report'

ATLANTA -- John Rocker might not go to the minor leagues. He's even considering whether to walk away from baseball altogether. And how would he make a living?

"I would be a stockbroker, probably," the outspoken reliever said Wednesday.

In his first public comments since being sent to Triple-A Richmond, Rocker told radio station WKLS-FM that he's upset about the way he was treated by the Atlanta Braves. He also said he never threatened Sports Illustrated reporter Jeff Pearlman, who wrote the story exposing Rocker's offensive comments against gays, minorities and foreigners.

Rocker refuses assignment
for second day
MAUMEE, Ohio -- John Rocker was a minor league no-show for a second straight day, leaving officials of the Atlanta Braves organization wondering whether he will report to the Triple-A Richmond Braves.

Rocker has until Thursday to join Richmond, which opened a three-game series with the Toledo Mud Hens on Wednesday night.

Richmond manager Randy Ingle said he had no idea if or when to expect Rocker.

"Your guess is as good as mine," Ingle said before Wednesday's game. "He might come around that corner right now, he might show up in the middle of the night or even tomorrow."

Earlier Wednesday, Rocker told Atlanta radio station WKLS that he may quit baseball.

The parent Braves said Rocker was sent down because of poor pitching performances. He was demoted one day after confronting a Sports Illustrated reporter who wrote a story in December about Rocker's offensive views on foreigners, gays and minorities.

A Richmond spokesman said team officials haven't heard from either Rocker or his agent.

"There's not a whole lot we know," Ingle said. "We don't know when he'll be here."

Ingle said he was to meet with Atlanta assistant general manager Frank Wren to discuss how Rocker should be used. Ingle, who coached Rocker in 1996 and '97 in the minors, was unaware of Rocker's comments on the radio.

"I'd be really surprised if he quit," he said.

Players from both teams insisted they wouldn't let Rocker's situation bother them.

"It's not affecting the mood or morale in the clubhouse," Richmond second baseman Steve Sisco said. "Our team hasn't been in the headlines. Only one name has been in the headlines."

The Mud Hens appeared anxious to bat against Rocker.

"Everybody wants to face him," Toledo infielder Chris Lemonis said. "We know he's a great pitcher. All of that other stuff, whatever."

Security was increased at Ned Skeldon Stadium, even though Rocker was not there. A plastic fence was erected to keep fans away from a walkway both teams use on the way to the field, and both clubhouses were closed to the media.

Nearly 100 media passes were issued for the game between two teams that are among the three worst in the International League. A small crowd was on hand, despite a Shriners Night promotion and the chance to see Rocker.

The Braves beat the Mud Hens 10-1 before a crowd of 4,563, less than half the capacity of the stadium but larger than most of the Mud Hens' crowds this season.

The Braves fined Rocker $5,000 for inappropriate conduct and said he was sent to the minors to work on his control.

"I don't know if I'm even going down or not," Rocker said during a 30-minute appearance on "The Regular Guys" morning show. "I'm still pretty chapped about the whole situation."

The Braves downplayed Rocker's comments, saying he was just frustrated. Manager Bobby Cox said the pitcher even stopped by Turner Field on Wednesday to pick up his gear.

"He's going to report," said Cox, who didn't get a chance to speak with Rocker. "Absolutely."

A baseball source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Rocker's advisors have told him to report to the minors. But it was unclear if Rocker planned to follow their advice, the source said.

Several players reacted with amusement when told that Rocker was considering a new career path. Outfielder Brian Jordan, who called Rocker a "cancer" after Sunday's confrontation with Pearlman, smiled in disbelief and held his hands over his ears.

"Unbelievable," Jordan said.

Reliever Kerry Ligtenberg added, "I knew he was interested in that, but I don't know if he's qualified. I don't think you can just become a stockbroker. Maybe he could be a day trader."

Rocker, who has not spoken with reporters since his demotion, has made regular appearances on WKLS, known in Atlanta as "96 Rock," since joining the Braves in 1998. Last month, the station arranged a meeting with Andrew Tellers, the 24-year-old California man who mooned Rocker during a game at Dodger Stadium.

Rocker was originally scheduled to be on the morning show Monday but backed out after the confrontation with Pearlman, said Christopher Calandro, the show's executive producer. The pitcher called in Wednesday, however.

"We have been wanting him to come on for a while," Calandro said. "Then all the stuff happened with Pearlman. He was committed to do the show, so we were the benefactor."

Rocker, who had 38 saves last year but has 25 walks in 18 1/3 innings this season, said he might quit rather than go to the minors. He has until Thursday to report to Toledo, Ohio, where Richmond was playing a three-game series.

"I got a pretty raw deal of raw deals this time," Rocker told the radio station. "There's plenty of things I can do besides dealing with the headaches of this garbage every single day."

He talked of returning to college to earn his business degree.

"There's something to be said for having a job that is not just a complete headache," Rocker said.

Most of the interview focused on his run-in with Pearlman, which occurred in a tunnel near the Braves clubhouse a couple of hours before Sunday's game against the New York Yankees. The reporter was in Atlanta to do a story on the rematch of last year's World Series.

"For a minute and a half, I yelled at him," Rocker said. "I didn't use profanity. I told him what a bad article I thought it was. ... I told him a lot of stuff he put in the article didn't need to be said."

John Rocker
John Rocker talks on the phone in a Turner Field tunnel on Monday. When Rocker realized he was being photographed, he stood up and cursed the photographer.

He said he blames Pearlman for causing the public outcry that followed publication of the remarks in December. Rocker was suspended for a month and fined $20,000 by commissioner Bud Selig, but an arbitrator reduced the sanctions to a two-week suspension and $500 fine.

Rocker also believes he should get an apology from Pearlman for "the pain and suffering he caused."

"He, of course, put the blame for everything on me," the pitcher said. "He said he was just doing his job."

Rocker said the confrontation with Pearlman was blown out of proportion.

"I scold this guy for a minute and a half and instead of standing there and taking it like a man, he has to run back and say, 'John Rocker yelled at me,' " Rocker said. "Looking back, maybe I shouldn't have. But the only repercussions that guy got to face was to get scolded for a minute and a half, instead of being a man and saying, 'I'm sorry for everything you've been through.' "

According to Pearlman, Rocker made threats like "Do you know what I can do to you?" and "This isn't over between us." The pitcher denied making those statements.

Rocker said he is tired of dealing with scrutiny from the media since his infamous interview.

"You can only politely decline so many times," he said. "Every second or third question is about that. They don't have any respect for your wishes. They're trying to stir up a can of worms."

General manager John Schuerholz said it was understandable for any player to be upset about getting sent to the minors. He has not spoken with Rocker but expects him to report to Triple A.

"I fully understand all the feelings he might be experiencing. I've heard hundreds and thousands of players say it before," Schuerholz said.

"Now, I've not heard anyone say they're going to be a stockbroker. But I've heard a lot of things in frustration from a lot of players."

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