JUPITER, Fla. - A judge postponed the assault case in Aruba against Sidney Ponson yesterday, giving the Orioles pitcher until May to reach an out-of-court settlement and likely bringing an end to the proceedings.
Ponson faces three assault charges for allegedly punching a local judge Dec. 25, an incident that left him in police custody for 11 days. If convicted, he would face a maximum sentence of four years in jail, though he was expected to receive a fine and/or community service.
Taking into account how a criminal record might jeopardize Ponson's livelihood - the pitcher could lose his work visa - Judge Bob Wit gave both sides until May 10 to reach an agreement. He also ordered Ponson to make a substantial donation to a charitable organization in Aruba.
"If all this takes place, the judge would then drop the case altogether," Ponson's attorney, Chris Lejuez, told reporters outside the courtroom.
Ponson was expected to return to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., last night. He's scheduled to pitch in Monday's exhibition game against the Florida Marlins.
"The judge gave a type of cooperation very different from other cases, and for this we are grateful," Lejuez said.
Orioles vice president Mike Flanagan and Ponson's agent, Barry Praver, flew to Aruba after Tuesday's intrasquad game.
"You never know what to expect," manager Lee Mazzilli said. "You always hope for the best. I'm glad they settled."
Majewski lost to injury
Outfielder Val Majewski, the Orioles' minor league Player of the Year, will undergo surgery today to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder. He'll rehab for most of the season.
Majewski appeared in nine games with the Orioles last season before being shut down with the injury. He was placed on a throwing program at the minor league complex in Sarasota, Fla., and was healthy enough to participate in Tuesday's intrasquad game.
Soreness developed in the shoulder, however, and the Orioles sent him to Baltimore for an examination.
Majewski, a third-round draft pick in 2002, batted .307 with 15 homers and 80 RBIs in 112 games at Bowie before his August promotion.
The Orioles have added outfielders Nick Markakis and Keith Reed, both former first-round draft picks, to their camp roster. Markakis batted .299 with 11 homers at Single-A Delmarva last season. Reed batted .295 with 16 homers for Double-A Bowie.
Melvin Mora returned to the Orioles' lineup yesterday after leaving Wednesday's intrasquad game in the first inning when pitcher John Maine nailed him in the batting helmet with a fastball.
"I was fine," Mora said yesterday. "I was [mad] because I wanted to keep playing. I know it's bad when you get hit in the head, and the manager's job is to protect everybody."