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Thursday, May 8
Mets, Benitez deny closer gave Sanchez a trim news services

Armando Benitez says he has an alibi.

"I was in the bullpen," Benitez told the New York Daily News on Wednesday, with a smile on his face. "What's the matter with you guys?"

With that, the latest controversy with the New York Mets continues to have a life of its own.

ESPN Radio reported on Monday that Mets reliever Mike Stanton walked into the clubhouse during a recent game to find Rey Sanchez getting a haircut. A team source told the New York Post that it was Benitez who gave Sanchez a trim.

Benitez and top team officials dispute the report.

"From sublime to ridiculous," general manager Steve Phillips told the New York Daily News on Wednesday. "Without a doubt, that is a complete fabrication. It's fiction. ... I wouldn't lie and Armando had absolutely nothing to do with this at all."

Said manager Art Howe: "It's too bad (Benitez) has been dragged into this. He's a totally innocent person."

According to New York newspaper reports, the incident allegedly took place on April 30 while the Mets were losing 13-4 to the Cardinals in St. Louis.

The time frame is somewhat questionable, according to the Daily News. The first report said Stanton walked in on it after coming out of the game after pitching the bottom of the eighth inning. However, other sources told the Daily News that the incident happened earlier in the game.

In the same game, Sanchez pinch-hit in the eighth (and got a single) and then played shortstop behind Stanton.

Another team source admitted to the Post that Benitez had cut a teammate's hair, but claimed it wasn't Sanchez and that it happened hours before a game. The team source said Sanchez later cut his own hair.

Sanchez refused to discuss the incident with the New York reporters. "I ain't talking about it," he said. "Baseball. Talk about baseball."

Observers of the team confirmed to the Post that Benitez, who is 10-for-14 in save opportunities this season, is known for regularly cutting teammates' hair.

"I didn't do it," Benitez told the Post before the Mets' 2-1 loss to the Dodgers on Wednesday night. "It wasn't me. Can't we just play baseball?"

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