SEATTLE (AP) – Kenny Rogers received a stern penalty for his violent outburst.

The Texas pitcher was suspended for 20 games and fined $50,000 by Major League Baseball on Friday for throwing an angry fit that sent a television cameraman to the hospital and prompted a police investigation.

The players’ union filed an appeal on behalf of Rogers, who can keep pitching until the appeal is heard.

“Mr. Rogers’ behavior was unprofessional, unwarranted and completely unacceptable,” commissioner Bud Selig said in a statement. “Major League Baseball is a social institution and all of us in the game have an important responsibility to act with reason and good judgment.”

The suspension was among the most severe imposed by the commissioner’s office for on-field conduct in decades – only the 30-day penalty given Cincinnati manager Pete Rose in 1988 for pushing umpire Dave Pallone was longer.

Rogers, who is scheduled to pitch Sunday, was in the Rangers’ locker room before Friday night’s game against the Seattle Mariners, but would not comment when asked about the suspension.

“He’s not talking,” Rangers spokesman Rich Rice said.

Rogers then walked out of the dugout past a group of TV cameramen without incident, staring straight ahead as he continued to the Rangers’ bullpen in left field.

Rogers was suspended a day after Texas pitcher Frank Francisco was sentenced to a work program and anger management classes after pleading guilty to misdemeanor assault. Francisco was suspended for 15 games after throwing a chair at an Oakland Athletics fan last Sept. 13.

Rangers shortstop Michael Young said, “Any suspension of this length is definitely going to hurt our club because Kenny is our best pitcher. We’re all going to stick by Kenny.”

On June 17, the left-handed Rogers hurt himself, breaking a bone in his right hand when he punched a water cooler and threw around other coolers in the Texas dugout.

“We hope the suspension is reduced,” Rangers manager Buck Showalter said. “Hopefully, we won’t have to deal with it until after the All-Star break.”

Showalter said there was a chance Rogers would not pitch Sunday against the Seattle Mariners because of the broken bone in his right hand. Showalter said he planned to talk to Rogers about pitching with an injection in his right hand.

Rogers (9-3) hasn’t pitched since June 22 in Anaheim. He was a 6-0 loser to the Los Angeles Angels.

Showalter said he was pleased with Rogers’ bullpen session.

“It went well, as well as can be expected,” he said. “Hopefully, he’ll be able to pitch with it.”

Pitching coach Orel Hershiser sounded optimistic about the chance of Rogers pitching Sunday and said he thought he was handling the suspension well. He watched Rogers throw 15 minutes before Friday night’s game.

“He threw very well and was in decent spirits considering what’s going on,” Hershiser said. “He’s very quiet right now. He’s just focusing on what he needs to be to be a pitcher.”

Before Wednesday night’s home game against the Los Angeles Angels, Rogers shoved two cameramen in a tirade that included throwing a camera to the ground, kicking it and threatening to break more.

“We’ve made it clear from the beginning this was an unacceptable behavior for the club,” Rangers general manager John Hart said. “I know Kenny, as evidenced by his statements, has expressed remorse. The commissioner has spoken and we’re going to move forward from there.”

The incident was captured on videotape and led to KDFW cameraman Larry Rodriguez being treated at a hospital.

“While I recognize the relationship between players and members of the media may sometimes be difficult, there is no circumstance in which a player may settle a difference of opinion or a dispute through physical means,” Selig said. “Media coverage is important to the game and we in baseball are obligated to treat members of the media with respect and civility.”

Rodriguez filed an assault report, and Arlington police spokeswoman Christy Gilfour said the case was being investigated as a misdemeanor assault. Rogers hadn’t been interviewed by investigators and no charges had been filed Thursday.

In a statement Friday before the ruling, Rogers’ attorneys said: “Kenny Rogers would like to make a statement. However, in light of the ongoing investigation, it is not advisable for Kenny to comment directly and publicly at this time.

“On Kenny’s behalf, though, we would like to express to Mr. Rodriguez, Ranger fans, all baseball fans and his teammates that Kenny is truly sorry for the incident that occurred and regrets that it happened.”

Said Michael Weiner, the union’s general counsel: “I may have more to say next week but for the time being, I’ll just say that it’s been immediately appealed.”

Kansas City Royals pitcher Brian Anderson said the stern punishment given to Rogers should send a message to other players.

“Punishment is supposed to happen one time,” Anderson said before Kansas City played the Angels. “You punish, and you make the punishment so that no one wants to do that. I think mission accomplished. That will get everybody’s attention.”

Two weeks ago, Rogers became angry after being pulled from a game against Washington. The 17-year veteran won his career-best ninth straight decision that night, when he was the AL ERA leader and a potential All-Star starter.

During that outburst, he broke a small bone at the base of the pinkie on his non-throwing hand.

The injury wasn’t made public until Rogers missed his start against the Angels on Tuesday, a week after he gave up six runs on 10 hits in 3 1-3 innings at Los Angeles.

Rogers lashed out at the cameramen Wednesday as they filmed him walking to the field for pregame stretching. A day earlier, he had ordered cameras turned off around him in the clubhouse.

Hart said “the crux of the matter” for Rogers was the perception by some media and fans that he skipped his start against the first-place Angels as a possible ploy in contract negotiations.

While saying Rogers regretted what happened, Rangers owner Tom Hicks and Hart also described the pitcher as being “defensive” when they spoke to him.

Rogers was drafted by the Rangers in 1982, and has spent 12 of his 17 major league seasons with the team for which he threw a perfect game in 1994. He became the first pitcher with three stints in Texas when he signed a $6 million, two-year contract before last season.

The pitcher met with Hicks before spring training and asked about a contract extension. Rogers denied a report that he threatened to retire and has since quit talking to most media.

Hart said there had been recent talks with Rogers’ agent, Scott Boras, but would be no more until after the season.

AP-ES-07-01-05 2159EDT

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