SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic (AP) — Ex-major leaguer Jose Offerman said Monday he is not trying to avoid a U.S. lawsuit for attacking two opposing players with a baseball bat during a minor league game in Connecticut six years ago.
The two-time All-Star infielder said he is "not missing" as a lawyer has suggested, but living in his homeland of the Dominican Republic. The 45-year-old Offerman says he works as an assistant to the general manager of the Licey Tigers, a winter league team he once managed before throwing a punch at an umpire during a 2010 argument on a baseball field.
J. Craig Smith, an attorney for ex-Bridgeport Bluefins catcher John Nathans, whose career was ended by the bat attack, has recently said he has tried to serve Offerman with discovery documents for months, but with no success. Smith said Offerman hasn't appeared at any of court proceedings and he doesn't expect him to show up as a federal lawsuit over the 2007 attack heads to trial in Connecticut.
During a brief interview Monday at the Quisqueya baseball stadium in the Dominican capital of Santo Domingo, Offerman said he believes Smith's portrayal was designed to make him look bad.
"Neither myself or my lawyer have been cited. I'm going to call my lawyer to inform me what is happening in this case," Offerman told The Associated Press.
Offerman declined to identify his lawyer to the AP, however. His former lawyer, Frank Riccio, who died in March, withdrew from the case in 2010, saying in a court document that Offerman refused to discuss the case with him and hadn't paid him. Riccio's son, also an attorney, said he'd likely represent him if Offerman returned to the U.S.
The Dominican player was charged with felony assault after the bat attack in Connecticut, but was granted a probation program that resulted in the charges being dismissed. He was also ordered to get anger management treatment.
Offerman was banned from the Dominican winter league after his 2010 attack on the umpire, but the ruling was overturned last year after he got psychological treatment.
He was an All-Star infielder with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1995 and the Boston Red Sox in 1999. He was playing for the minor league Long Island Ducks in August 2007 when he was hit by a pitch and charged the mound during a game against the Bluefish in the Connecticut city of Bridgeport. He hit Nathans and pitcher Matt Beech with the bat.
Nathans suffered a head injury that ended his career. His $4.8 million lawsuit against Offerman and the Long Island Ducks is pending in federal court in Bridgeport. The team denies any responsibility for Offerman's attack.
A judge has ordered the parties to attend a settlement conference on Dec. 5 and jury selection is scheduled to begin Jan. 7.