Braves place McDowell on administrative leave

Braves place McDowell on administrative leave

Braves place McDowell on administrative leave
ATLANTA -- Braves pitching coach Roger McDowell's usually upbeat and energetic personality has been subdued by the embarrassment and pain he has felt while dealing with the consequences of his actions before last Saturday's game against the Giants at AT&T Park.

The Braves announced Friday afternoon that McDowell has been placed on administrative leave. But the severity of his punishment won't be learned until Major League Baseball completes an investigation of a claim made by a fan, who alleges McDowell made homophobic gestures and statements to three other men and also threatened him during batting practice.

"We just have additional facts we're gathering," Braves general manager Frank Wren said. "Until we feel like we have all the facts, we're going to make sure we don't make a rush to judgment. ... We have Roger's side of the story and we also have witnesses who have corroborated what Roger has told us. Once we've completed that process, we'll be more forthcoming."

While MLB continues its investigation, the Braves will use veteran pitching guru Dave Wallace as their pitching coach. Wallace served as a mentor during McDowell's playing days, and their relationship was one of the primary reasons Wallace was named Braves Minor League pitching coordinator during this past offseason.

Wren was hoping the investigation could be concluded within the next couple days.

"We're not necessarily looking for contradictions," Wren said. "We're just looking for the truth. Wherever the facts lead us, whether it's through additional witnesses and we do have some of those, we'll let the truth lead us to where we lead up and then we'll make a decision."

It's unknown whether McDowell could return to the club as early as the early portion of next week. But Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said he doesn't believe his good friend should lose his job.

"I'm sure there's going to be some hoops he'll have to go through and some apologizing he'll have to go through," Gonzalez said. "But for a person to lose their job, I wouldn't think so and I hope it doesn't [happen]."

During Saturday afternoon's batting practice in San Francisco, McDowell began interacting with three men who were having fun heckling backup catcher David Ross as he stood down the left-field line.

Standing a few rows away with his 9-year-old twin daughters, Justin Quinn, 33, of Fresno, Calif., alleges that McDowell asked the men if they were together while using sexual statements and gestures.

After getting McDowell's attention and telling him he shouldn't make such gestures in the presence of children, Quinn alleges the Braves pitching coach threatened him while holding a fungo bat and asking, 'How much are your teeth worth?'

Quinn told his story and demonstrated McDowell's alleged actions with his daughters by his side at a press conference staged by high-profile attorney Gloria Allred on Wednesday afternoon.

Those who have been around McDowell find it very hard to believe that he would have said children don't belong at a baseball park, as Quinn alleges. Wren chose not to respond when asked about this.

Wren also chose not to confirm whether any of the other witnesses he has spoken to corroborated speculation that Quinn actually told McDowell that all would be forgotten if he threw a couple baseballs in the stands.

"We're having discussions with Major League Baseball," Wren said. "The Commissioner is taking the lead on this. So we're in the process of continuing to work with them with the information we have and the information they have."

Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez has a strong friendship with McDowell that dates back to the days when they were introduced as members of Bobby Cox's coaching staff in 2006. They now live four doors apart in a suburban Atlanta neighborhood.

"Roger is hurting," Gonzalez said. "We've spent a lot of time together. He's really hurting. He's got to deal with a family and his reputation."

Wren said he doesn't want this to make his players or coaches apprehensive about interacting with fans in the stands.

"I think one of the great things baseball has is the interaction fans have with players and staff and coaches," Wren said. "We've got to always be mindful of that. There are times when it gets a little tense. It's a great relationship our industry has with our fans, and we've got to make sure we maintain that and improve it."

Mark Bowman is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.