Alexandria Dukes catcher Angel Rodriguez was suspended indefinitely Thursday night by the Pittsburg Pirates, the Dukes' major league affilate, pending investigation of allegations that he gave away his signs to opposing hitters.
Rodriguez, 20, who is from Bayamon, Purto Rico, has denied the charge to Murray Cook, the Pirate farm director, and said he will appeal the Pirates' action to the National Assoication of Professional Baseball Clubs.
Cook will request an investigation by Carolina League President Jim Mills.
Alexandria Manager Mike Toomey would not comment on the matter and only said the whole thing was sad.
"I don't know what the consequences will be," Cook said. "But it's a serious offense. It's like throwing a game. It's a type of offense that you can be expelled from the game. The decision will be beyond us. It might even be a National Association matter. This is the first time that this sort of thing has happened to me.
"Personally, I don't want to declare the guy guilty before a thorough investigation, there is going to be a lot of hearsay. And when something like this happens to someone young, they make a lot of comments because they are frightened.
"A lot could have been lost in the translation between Toomey and Angel (who speaks only broken English). A lot of catchers say, 'Hey, watch the breaking ball, here comes that breaking ball.' And all of a sudden a fast ball is thrown down the middle. That sort of thing can be very confusing to a batter. And maybe that's what has been happening."
Rodriguez denied that he gave away signs to opposing hitters. "No way," he said. "Maybe the guy doesn't swing at a good pitch. I say, 'Hey, how come you no swing; that was a good pitch down the middle.'
"But I did not ell them, 'Here comes a fast ball, curve ball, changeup.'"
Rodriguez left yesterday for Puerto Rico.
Four Carolina League unmpires and two field managers were said to have reported the allegations to the Pirates, according to Rodriguez.
Managers Gene Dusan of Lynchburg and Al Gallagher of Durham denied they were the informants; John McLaren of Kingston and Gene Ezell of Salam refused comment, and Bill Dancy of Peninsula, Hagerstown's Grandy Little and Buddy Hunter of Winston-Salem were unavailable for comment.
Two of the hitters who reportedly were tipped by Rodriguez were Jose Oquendo of the Lynchburg Mets and Luis Quinones of the Salem Redbirds.
"We had no option but to suspend Rodriguez," said the Pirates's Cook. "there is no place for it. If it has been going on all seasons, why does it come out now?"
In a telephone interview with Lynchburg shortstop Oquendo, the 18-year-old said that Rodriguez never tipped him on what pitches were being thrown.
"When I swing at a pitch and miss, I ask Angel, 'What kind of pitch was that: high pitch? Low pitch?' But he didn't tell me what kind of pitch was coming," Oquendo said.