The Braves have placed pitching coach Roger McDowell on administrative leave while they continue to investigate allegations that he directed anti-gay slurs toward fans at San Francisco’s AT&T Park.
Braves general manager Frank Wren said Friday he hoped to have the situation resolved in “the next day or so.” The Braves are working in conjunction with Major League Baseball to determine how to proceed.
Wren would not comment on what McDowell’s potential punishment would be, or whether McDowell would lose his job. But when Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez was asked if he thought this would cost McDowell his job, he said no.
“In my opinion it shouldn’t,” Gonzalez said. “I’m sure there’s going to be some hoops that he’s going to have to go through and some apologizing, which he should have to go through, but for a person to lose their job, I wouldn’t think so and I hope it doesn’t.”
McDowell was not at Turner Field Friday but has been in close contact with Gonzalez, who lives four doors down from him in Marietta.
“Roger is hurting,” Gonzalez said. “He’s got to deal with a family and his reputation and no matter what the punishment is or whatever it is, he’s got to pay it to a little higher authority. He’s going to be ok.”
The Braves have interviewed McDowell and witnesses, Wren said.
“We have Roger’s side of the story and we also have some witnesses that have corroborated what Roger has told us,” Wren said. “Once we have completed that process we’ll be a little more forthcoming with the facts.”
The Braves are not expected to interview Giants fan Justin Quinn, 33, who issued the complaint against McDowell.
“I think we have a pretty good idea of his side of the story,” Wren said. “He had a press conference.”
The last Brave to miss game action for inflammatory remarks was former closer John Rocker after his 1999 tirade in Sports Illustrated. Rocker was originally fined $20,000 by Major League Baseball and suspended for a month, but his sanctions were reduced to a $500 fine and a two-week suspension by an arbitrator.
McDowell, in his sixth season as Braves pitching coach, issued an apology on Wednesday, saying “I am deeply sorry that I responded to the heckling fans in San Francisco on Saturday. I apologize to everyone for my actions.”
The Braves announced that minor league pitching coordinator Dave Wallace would fill in during McDowell’s absence.
Wallace is in his second year in the Braves organization. He’s a veteran of 30 seasons as a major and minor league coach and front office executive. He’s and a former pitching coach for of the Astros, Red Sox, Mets and Dodgers. He’s also a mentor of McDowell’s.
“They’ve been on the same page, so that will be somewhat seamless,” Wren said. “Roger is an important part of our organization, an important part of our pitching staff. He’s done a terrific job. He’d be the first to tell you he made a mistake and he’s eventually going to pay the consequences.”
Quinn, 33, of Fresno, Calif. man came forward Wednesday, accusing McDowell of yelling “Are you a homo couple or a threesome?” to fans sitting in the left field seats Saturday and simulating a sex act with a bat.
Quinn, who was sitting nearby with his 9-year-old twin daughters, said he asked McDowell to watch his language in front of children.
Quinn’s attorney, celebrity lawyer Gloria Allred, said McDowell responded by saying “Kids don’t [expletive] belong at the baseball park.”
She also said McDowell walked toward him in a threatening manner, holding a bat. Quinn said McDowell asked him “How much are your teeth worth?”
Quinn demanded an apology at a press conference held Wednesday in Los Angeles with his wife and two daughters.
Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig called Quinn’s allegations “very troubling” and said in a statement Wednesday he would determine how to proceed after the Braves complete their investigation and report to him.