Altercation outside A-Rod arbitration hearing gets heated

There may be no crying in baseball, but there appesrs to be plenty of crying over spilled coffee.

A security guard for Major League Baseball quickly filed a harassment complaint against Fernando Mateo, the president of Hispanics Across America, after an altercation outside baseball’s Park Avenue headquarters Tuesday morning, a police source told the Daily News.

Her complaint was filed even as Mateo, whose organization was protesting MLB’s 211-game doping suspension of Yankee third baseman Alex Rodriguez, threatened to file one against the guard, who he said threw a cup of hot coffee on his chest. Mateo said the incident occurred as he was moving a police barricade to give pedestrians more room to gather on the sidewalk, and that the security guard doused him with the cup of joe as she pushed the barrier back to its original spot.

The police source, however, said a review of the incident clearly showed that a cup of coffee in the security guard’s hand accidentally spilled on Mateo during a scuffle over the barricade.

No charges will be filed against the security guard, the police source said.

Mateo was taken by ambulance to New York Presbyterian-Weill Cornell Medical Center. He claimed the incident caused his blood pressure to spike, which he feared might lead to a heart attack. He later complained about neck and back pain.

A-Rod protestors line up outside MLB headquarters on Tuesday morning as the Yankee star's arbitration hearing over his 211-game steroid suspension continues.

Richard Harbus/New York Daily News

A-Rod protestors line up outside MLB headquarters on Tuesday morning as the Yankee star’s arbitration hearing over his 211-game steroid suspension continues.

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“This morning as I was preparing for our press conference in support of Alex Rodriguez, I was assaulted by a hyper-aggressive and violent security guard for Major League Baseball who threw hot coffee on me,” Mateo said in a statement released through a public relations firm on Tuesday afternoon.

“I have reported this incident to the police, and was taken by ambulance to Weill Cornell Medical Center. Despite my strong desire to leave, I have been ordered by the doctors here to stay for observations due to injuries I sustained.”

Mateo’s attorney, high-profile lawyer Sanford Rubenstein, arrived at the protest after Mateo had been taken to the hospital and said the unidentified guard would be held “accountable.”

About 75 Rodriguez supporters rallied outside MLB’s offices to support the beleaguered superstar, who is fighting a 211-game suspension handed down by commissioner Bud Selig in August. MLB officials say Rodriguez violated the sport’s anti-doping policy on numerous occasions and interfered with baseball’s investigation into Biogenesis, the South Florida anti-aging clinic that allegedly supplied performance-enhancing drugs to Rodriguez and other MLB players.

HAA executive director Sergio Rodriguez said the protest was not coordinated or funded by the Yankees’ steroid-stained star or his legal advisers. But Rodriguez and other protesters echoed many of the claims Rodriguez’s lawyers and P.R. advisers have made since it became clear that the controversial athlete would be suspended earlier this year, namely that the Yankees and Yankee president Randy Levine have conpsired with MLB to dump Rodriguez and what remains of his contract.

A-Rod shakes hands with supporters as he arrives for the second day of his arbitration hearing.

DAVID KARP/AP

A-Rod shakes hands with supporters as he arrives for the second day of his arbitration hearing.

Rodriguez lawyer Joe Tacopina, in particular, leveled attacks on Levine, accusing him of sending threatening emails to A-Rod and of telling the surgeon who operated on Rodriguez’s hip last winter that he didn’t want to see the player on the field again.

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Neither Tacopina nor anyone from the HAA, however, made public any evidence that the Yankees or Levine has conspired to derail Rodriguez. MLB makes it clear that punishment under the game’s collectively bargained drug agreement comes under the auspices of the commissioner’s office and the Players Association, not the individual clubs.

That didn’t stop Mateo and the HAA from claiming that Rodriguez is being singled out for unfair punishment.

“We agree if he did anything wrong he should be suspended for 50 games like a first-time offender and community service,” Matea told The News. “Not a 200-game suspension.”

Sergio Rodriguez — no relation to the ballplayer — said the protesters rallied outside MLB’s offices because they believe Selig and the Yankees have targeted A-Rod because the team wants to dump his salary.

The protest organizer promises twice as many protestors on Wednesday outside MLB headquarters.

Richard Harbus/New York Daily News

The protest organizer promises twice as many protestors on Wednesday outside MLB headquarters.

“The Yankees have been on this campaign for three or four years now, that this was the year (2014) that they were going to get under the luxury tax,” Rodriguez said. “You know how nice it would be to still put out a competitive team out there without the $ 31 million they gotta pay A-Rod? That would be huge if he got suspended. We feel that (Yankee president) Randy Levine, in a lot of ways, is probably married to this decision. We feel that he’s supporting the suspension by MLB, instead of backing his player and honoring the contract that his organization signed.”

The protesters held signs that said “Latinos stick together,” and “Randy Levine is the devil.”

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“We believe the process is stacked against Alex,” Sergio Rodriguez added. “We are not for steroids or cheating, and if Alex did something wrong, he should be punished. But we do believe in due process.”

Baseball sources have said theories about conspiracies between the Yankees and MLB’s brass are attempts by A-Rod to shift attention from his alleged steroid use.

“This is typical Alex,” one source told the Daily News earlier this year. “Instead of taking responsibility for his actions, he blames everybody else. It wasn’t the Yankees who introduced him to (Biogenesis founder) Anthony Bosch. It wasn’t the Yankees who introduced him to (HGH guru Anthony) Galea, or anybody else.”

Fernando Mateo (c.), seen in a June 2013 file photo, is taken to hospital after Tuesday morning altercation outside the MLB offices in Manhattan.

Kathy Kmonicek/Kathy Kmonicek

Fernando Mateo (c.), seen in a June 2013 file photo, is taken to hospital after Tuesday morning altercation outside the MLB offices in Manhattan.

It’s not the first time HAA has come to A-Rod’s defense: In 2006, the organization initiated a campaign to persuade fans not to boo or jeer Rodriguez. Mateo told The News in 2006 that fans who boo Rodriguez overlook the contributions he makes to the local community.

It’s also not the first time Hispanics Across America has held a demonstration outside MLB’s offices. The organization criticized baseball officials in 2005 because it said MLB had not done enough to combat steroid use by minor leaguers and other prospects in the Dominican Republic and other Latin American countries. MLB began steroid testing of Dominican minor leaguers in 2004.

“They sit in judgment of Alex Rodriguez yet turn a blind eye to people who prey on young players in the Dominican Republic and Venezuela, and other places,” Mateo said then. “They claim reforms have been implemented but it’s just a claim, a press release, spin. Too many kids are still being steered down the wrong path while Major League Baseball ignores the reality on the ground.”

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Mateo planned another press conference for Wednesday and promised to bring twice the number of protesters that showed up Tuesday. Sergio Rodriguez said the group will rally on A-Rod’s behalf outside MLB headquarters throughout the week and is planning a candle vigil for Thursday night and Friday morning.

He acknowledged that supporting a wealthy athlete who has already acknowledged previous steroid use is probably not a priority for most Latino New Yorkers. A-Rod has never publicly addressed issues important to Latino voters, such as immigration reform or the New York Police Department’s stop-and-frisk policy.

According to Mother Jones, he donated $ 250 to Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign and $ 250 to the Republican National Committee in 2012. He has also provided financial support to President Bush’s re-election campaign in 2004 and to Rudy Giuliani in 2007.

But Sergio Rodriguez said he has been supportive of the Latino community throughout his career.

“Alex has done a lot of stuff privately for the Dominican community and Hispanic community,” Sergio Rodriguez said. “It would be hypocritical for us to turn our back on him.”

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