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Mets' Rojas Suspended For 5

New York Mets third-base coach Cookie Rojas was suspended Monday for five games a penalty to begin with Game 1 of the NL championship series for shoving umpire Charlie Williams in the chest during a playoff game last weekend.

NL president Len Coleman issued the suspension and also fined Rojas $500.

Bench coach Bruce Benedict will take over Rojas' spot. Rojas declined comment until he could meet with Coleman, most likely before the Mets opened their best-of-7 series against Atlanta on Tuesday night.

"In our view, it was much steeper than we anticipated," Mets general manager Steve Phillips said. "I talked to Len for about 30 minutes and shared my feelings and my view about the severity of the punishment."

"I told him what I saw live and on tape," he said. "Our views agreed on some things and disagreed on others."

The altercation took place Saturday at Shea Stadium after Rojas was ejected in the eighth inning of the Mets' clinching 4-3 win over Arizona in Game 4 of the division series.

Rojas became enraged after Williams, the left-field umpire, ruled Darryl Hamilton's drive down the line was foul. Replays showed Williams made the correct call.

Rojas was quickly ejected and the argument heated up. Manager Bobby Valentine ran onto the field and shielded Rojas from Williams, and first-base coach Mookie Wilson also tried to intervene.

But Rojas broke through and, after there was contact between him and Williams it was unclear who initiated that brush he pushed the umpire with two hands in the chest.

After the game, Rojas claimed Williams had called him a name and added, "He bumped me first." Williams did not comment.

Valentine said Rojas, who also positions the Mets' infielders, would be missed.

"Some people think all he does is coach third base," Valentine said. "He does a lot more."

Third baseman Robin Ventura said he would notice the change.

"Obviously, it's different," he said. "The infielders rely on him being at third base every day. You're used to his timing of giving you signs and the way you communicate, you know what he's asking for."

"So it's going to be a little bit different to understand what the other coaches are asking you to do," he said. "I think Cookie becomes comfortable with us, and it doesn't take quite as long to explain what you want when you've done it that long."

©1999 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

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