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His Boots Are Made for Blockin'

Outfit Worn by Pitcher as Hazing Ritual May Have Slowed Bullet

By Andres Ybarra
Associated Press
Friday, October 1, 2004; Page D01

MINNEAPOLIS, Sept. 30 -- Cleveland Indians pitcher Kyle Denney won't complain about having to dress like a cheerleader again. The white go-go boots that went with the outfit might have prevented a bullet from seriously injuring his leg.

The rookie was hit in the right calf by a shot that came through the side of the Indians' bus in Kansas City late Wednesday as the team traveled to the airport after a victory over the Royals. The bullet caused only a flesh wound, probably because of the tough leather of the knee-high boot, Denney and his trainers said.

Looks only a mother could love: Kyle Denney, wearing his rookie initiation outfit, talks to his mother after a game. (John Sleezer -- Kansas City Star Via AP)

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All of Cleveland's rookies were decked out in outrageous outfits on the bus, part of a hazing ritual. An Oklahoma native, Denney said his teammates told him to dress as a USC cheerleader because the Sooners are ranked second behind Southern California in the Associated Press college football poll.

"I've never been so glad to have a USC thing on," Denney said Thursday at a news conference in Minneapolis, where the Indians traveled for a weekend series against the Twins.

Kevin Hallinan, senior vice president of security for the commissioner's office, met with Kansas City police on Thursday regarding the shooting, which happened as the bus traveled along a highway ramp.

Hallinan said the shooting appeared to be random, and that police had no suspects.

Team trainers removed the bullet from Denney's leg while he was still on the bus, and he stayed overnight at a Kansas City hospital before rejoining his team.

"As soon as the skin heals, it should be fine," Denney said at the news conference, where he wore a suit and walked without a noticeable limp.

"The way he handled the situation was pretty awesome," said outfielder Ryan Ludwick, who was sitting across the aisle from Denney and was grazed by debris. "Now I know the guy can pitch in the big leagues, 'cause he got shot by a bullet and was about as calm as can be."

Indians spokesman Bart Swain said there was momentary panic on the bus before teammates realized Denney was not seriously hurt, and Ludwick said that is when "a lot of jokes started flying."

Denney, 27, who started Wednesday night's game against the Royals, said he hopes the shooter realizes the consequences could have been much worse.

"I thought it was just another prank, like a firecracker or something," Denney said. "I didn't know I was shot until I saw the blood."

After getting called up from Class AAA Buffalo on Sept. 14, Denney is 1-2 with a 9.56 ERA in four starts with Cleveland. He beat Kansas City, 8-3, on Sept. 19 for his first major league win.

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