Ponson faces arraignment in Aruba

Possible assault, battery stem from Christmas fight in which judge was injured

December 27, 2004|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

Orioles pitcher Sidney Ponson could be arraigned today on assault and battery charges in Aruba after a fight on Christmas that put a local judge in the hospital.

Ponson, 28, was detained on suspicion of assault at a beach in Boca Catalina after several people accused him of harassing them with his personal watercraft and operating it recklessly.

According to police, Ponson allegedly struck one of the men, later identified as a judge, several times before fleeing the scene. The judge's condition was not released last night, but it's believed he suffered a black eye.

Police detained Ponson, a native of Aruba, late Saturday night. He is being held at a jail in the community of San Nicolas.

Orioles officials learned of the incident last night from members of the media.

"We will be awaiting further details before commenting," vice president Mike Flanagan said.

Team spokesman Bill Stetka said: "We know nothing officially, and we have no comment on it."

Ponson's agent, Barry Praver, arrived in Aruba yesterday. Praver said he couldn't comment on the incident until he had a chance to speak with Ponson.

Under Aruba's legal system, Ponson's attorney, Chris Lejuez, was the only person allowed to meet with him yesterday. Ponson is being detained because there's no bail system.

The Orioles' No. 1 starter coming out of spring training, Ponson went 11-15 with a 5.30 ERA in 33 starts last season.

He was traded to the San Francisco Giants at the non-waiver deadline in 2003, but became a free agent and signed a three-year, $22.5 million contract with the Orioles on Jan. 14.

In 2003, Ponson was decorated in his homeland as a knight in the Order of the Dutch Royal House.

He became the third Aruban to play in the major leagues in 1998, five years after the Orioles signed him as a non-drafted free agent.

Ponson, who was born in Noord, Aruba, and returns to his homeland in the offseason, drew the ire of team officials earlier this year when he arrived at spring training overweight. His physical condition became more of an issue when he went 3-12 in the first half, as the Orioles tumbled into last place in the American League East.

An 8-3 surge after the All-Star break took some of the heat off Ponson, but the Orioles have been attempting to sign a front-line starter and lower him in the rotation.

Ponson has been guilty only of poor judgment in the past.

In July 2000, he left New York without permission after a day game and attended a Metallica concert in Baltimore with teammates Scott Erickson and Jeff Conine. Ponson pitched two days later and couldn't hold a 7-0 lead against the Yankees.

The three players were reprimanded and fined by then-manager Mike Hargrove.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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