Still no word on if Rocker will report to minors


Friday, April 19th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6



ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) _ The Texas Rangers still waited Thursday to find out if John Rocker would accept his demotion to the minor leagues.

Texas optioned the struggling reliever to Triple-A Oklahoma early Wednesday after he blew a save opportunity by giving up two runs in the 10th inning of a 6-5 loss at Anaheim the night before. Rocker has until late Friday to report to the RedHawks of the Pacific Coast League.

Since Rocker has fewer than four years of service in the majors and an option remaining, the 27-year-old left-hander can't force his release from the Rangers by refusing to accept the assignment.

In a statement released Thursday evening, Rangers general manager John Hart and Rocker's agent, Joe Sambito, announced they reached an agreement that gives Rocker ``an indefinite period of time and certainly into next week'' to decide if he wants to report.

``We all agreed that the right thing to do is to give John additional time to collect his thoughts and make his decision,'' Hart said in the statement. ``I am confident that he will decide to report to Oklahoma and begin working on getting back to the major leagues.''

Hart said earlier that a trade was unlikely, but didn't elaborate on possible options if Rocker doesn't report.

If Rocker refuses the assignment and the Rangers don't release him, the team would likely put him on the suspended list.

Rocker's $2.5 million contract with Texas has a minor-league clause under which he would be paid a prorated amount of $625,000 while in the minors.

Through six games with the Rangers, Rocker was 0-1 with one save, two blown saves and a 9.53 ERA. He has nine strikeouts in 5 2-3 innings, but the left-hander also had allowed 11 hits and seven runs _ six earned _ with four walks. Opponents were batting .407 against him.

Rocker hasn't been the same since his disparaging remarks about gays, minorities and others appeared in a Sports Illustrated interview before the 2000 season.

In 1999, Rocker saved 38 games and pitched in the World Series for Atlanta, but had troubled relationships with his Braves teammates after the magazine article came out. He saved 24 games in 2000 and 23 last season before the Braves traded him last June to Cleveland, where Hart was the GM.

Even though Rocker had just four saves and couldn't keep the closer's role in Cleveland, where he also had trouble with teammates, Hart traded for him after he became the Rangers GM last November.