|Wednesday, March 20
Updated: March 21, 2:31 PM ET
Giants may not look other way if Kent violated deal
ESPN.com news services
As evidence mounts that Jeff Kent's broken wrist had more to do with his admiration for the Knievel family than his disdain for car washes, Giants GM Brian Sabean told ESPN.com's Jayson Stark on Wednesday that he can't promise the club's owners will look the other way if it's proven Kent was injured while violating his contract.
Kent said he injured his wrist while washing his truck, but other reports say the injury came when he was riding a motorcycle in violation of his contract with the Giants.
"Right now, I can't say he didn't fall off his truck while he was washing it," Sabean said. "There were no witnesses, and that's what his claim is. And I know Jeff Kent's character. But there is more and more evidence by the day that he also had a motorcycle spill."
Two men called 911 on the afternoon Kent was hurt reporting a cyclist was doing a "wheelie" and crashed near Scottsdale Stadium, the San Francisco Chronicle reported Wednesday. Police say an accident occurred on Hayden Road about 6:35 p.m. MT.
No one has identified Kent as the rider, and he has brushed aside questions. The Chronicle reports that witnesses say associates of the rider helped him load the motorcycle onto the back of a white pickup. That truck went north on Hayden Road, followed by a white van with a license plate registered to a Mesa, Ariz., car dealership. That dealership has leased the vehicle to the Giants during spring training.
"He was popping a wheelie and just wiped out," Leo Vera, 31, told the Arizona Republic in Wednesday's editions. Vera was one of the callers to 911. "He was doing probably about 45 mph and totally lost it. The bike threw sparks all around." Another caller to 911, identified by police as Paige MacDonald, said, "The guy was hot-dogging it all the way. He was doing a wheelie down the road and he smacked into the curb. I drove by and looked at him and I said 'you're an idiot for doing this. I've seen more guys killed than you can imagine.' He said: 'Get the hell out of the way' and (the rider and the two drivers who stopped) were just throwing (the bike) in the back of the white pickup truck."
So the Giants continue to investigate. But the question now is whether the injury in question happened in that accident.
"It's one thing to say he took a spill on his bike," Sabean said. "It's another thing to say he got hurt doing it."
However, signs increasingly are pointing in that direction. And when asked if the club could forgive Kent, considering his MVP contributions to the franchise over the years, Sabean did not issue a quick pardon.
"I can't say that," he said, "because I don't know what ownership wants to do. We're talking about $37,000 a day."
However, Kent's wrist is apparently healing normally, and he still is expected back no later than mid-April. If complications develop, however, and he's down for an extended period of time, that could affect the Giants' stance on an injury apparently sustained during an activity prohibited by his contract.
"Either way, we hope he's back in a couple of weeks," Sabean said. "We're not doing this to bust his chops. The guy dies for us on the field. We don't question that. And we know he loves life. He lives his life like a cowbody. That's just him. But we can't condone any kind of reckless behavior."
Kent makes $6 million a season. If his pay were docked for violating the provision in his contract preventing him from riding a motorcycle, he would lose $33,000 per game.
He declined comment on Tuesday.
"I've been around this game too long to know that when I make a statement about an issue, that's that," Kent told the Arizona Republic. "To rebut that and say 'he said, she said,' or I've got witnesses here and what do you say? That's fine, I'm not gonna comment."
"This is a great lesson for him and a great lesson for baseball," Sabean told the Chronicle. "There's a difference between partaking in whatever your fun is and being careless. Am I surprised by the information that's presenting itself about a bike incident? No. Do I think it's prudent and smart? No. I think it's careless. But I also know what kind of life he leads, which is a very workmanlike, old-fashioned lifestyle, including how he runs his ranch (in Texas).
"I'm sure he's been in situations on the ranch that nobody knows about that are far more precarious and even more dangerous than falling off a bike. I'm sure that he's fallen off his bike before."