|Thursday, January 9
Updated: March 13, 5:38 PM ET
Pitcher says he never struck back or used golf clubs
MIAMI -- San Francisco Giants pitcher Livan Hernandez denied Thursday that he pushed an elderly warehouse owner or swung golf clubs at him, saying that he was the victim in a scuffle that resulted in his arrest.
Hernandez posted $10,000 bond and was released from Miami-Dade County Jail late Wednesday after he was charged with felony aggravated assault and battery on the elderly. Each charge carries up to five years in prison. He is scheduled for arraignment Jan. 29.
Police said Hernandez pushed Francisco Martinez, 65, to the ground during an argument outside a warehouse he rents from the man. The dispute escalated and police said Hernandez grabbed some golf clubs from the trunk of his car and tried to hit Martinez.
But Hernandez disputed the allegations Thursday, saying it was Martinez who threw punches and that he never struck back or tried to hit him with any golf clubs. He said Martinez started an argument and hurled racial slurs at him after he tried to resolve a business dispute over repairs to the building.
"He was looking for problems with me. He came after me," Hernandez, a Cuban defector, said in Spanish during a news conference.
According to Martinez, Hernandez signed a one-year lease at the warehouse with plans to open a car-accessories business. Martinez said Hernandez became confrontational during their discussion and pushed him.
Martinez received a minor cut on the back of his head when he fell to the ground, witnesses told police.
Hernandez, who won the 1997 World Series MVP with the Florida Marlins, then retrieved two or three golf clubs from the trunk of his car and raised them as if to strike the man, but several people restrained him, Martinez told police.
"Not much happened, but someday he might kill someone," Martinez said. "Now, I'm going to sue."
According to Hernandez, one of his friends, David Montoto, stepped in between the two men during the argument.
Hernandez said Martinez threw two punches at Montoto, including one to the face. Montoto, also present at the news conference, said he then pushed Martinez, causing him to fall.
Hernandez said he then tried to peacefully leave the scene, but Martinez followed him, leveling racial slurs.
"That's when he started to offend me," Hernandez said. "I ran to the car, opened the trunk, got the golf clubs, but David stepped in."
Montoto told police his version of the events at the scene but was not charged. Martinez also wasn't charged.
Herminia Salas-Jacobson, a Miami police spokeswoman, said detectives interviewed nine people before deciding to arrest Hernandez.
"I don't know who started it," Orlando Hernandez said. "I hope my brother has no problems. He's not crazy."
Hernandez signed with Florida in 1996 after defecting from his native Cuba. He was a 22-year-old rookie in 1997 when he won both starts against the Cleveland Indians in the World Series.
But he pitched poorly during the next two seasons and was traded to San Francisco in 1999. He had a 6-0 postseason record going into last year's World Series, but lost twice and was allowed four runs in Game 7 as the Giants lost to the Anaheim Angels.
He has a 69-69 record and a 4.42 ERA in eight major league seasons.