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BASEBALL Baltimore's Ponson apoligizes



Published: Fri, January 7, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



The Oriole pitcher was involved in a fight in Aruba.

ORANJESTAD, Aruba (AP) -- Baltimore Orioles pitcher Sidney Ponson apologized for his involvement in a Christmas Day fight on a beach in Aruba, though he didn't mention allegations that he punched a judge.

"I'd like to say that I'm not at all proud of what happened and the way I behaved on the beach that particular day," Ponson told reporters Wednesday in his native Papiamento language before boarding a private jet headed to Miami.

"I would like to apologize to everybody, but especially to the young people of Aruba, who always considered me their role model. I'm very sorry for what took place and I would surely never let this happen again."

Ponson also apologized to the judge and three other people who were on the beach.

Under investigation

Ponson was released from jail Tuesday after a week in detention while police investigated allegations that he punched a judge. The 28-year-old right-hander faces charges of public violence and simple aggression.

His trial was set for March 3, when he would be in spring training with the Orioles.

It was not clear whether Ponson would be required to attend the trial and he did not take any questions from journalists before he boarded a private jet with his agent and flew to Miami to start his conditioning for the upcoming season.

Ponson, who was born on the Dutch Caribbean island, allegedly punched a local judge on Dec. 25 at a beach in Boca Catalina after several people confronted Ponson, accusing him of harassing them with his personal watercraft and operating it recklessly, police said.

The judge was hospitalized with minor injuries, authorities said. Ponson fled the scene but police detained him later in the day, said authorities.

Ponson went 11-15 with a 5.30 ERA in 33 starts and 215.2 innings pitched last season.

He has played with the Orioles except for a brief stint with the San Francisco Giants in 2003.

He became a free agent after that season and signed a $22.5 million, three-year contract with Baltimore.

He has a 69-80 career record in seven seasons with a 4.67 ERA and 802 strikeouts in 210 games and 1,313 innings pitched.

In 1998, Ponson became the third Aruban to play in the major leagues. In 2003, he was decorated in his homeland as a knight in the Order of the Dutch Royal House.




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