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CNN Today

Rocker Returns to Spring Training

Aired March 2, 2000 - 1:04 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: Well, three months after he shocked the baseball world with his comments about minorities and one day after an arbitrator shortened his suspension, Atlanta Braves pitcher John Rocker arrived at spring training camp today.

CNN's John Zarrella is in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, with that -- John.

JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Natalie, well, the Atlanta Braves have just taken the field for the first of their year 2000 exhibition games. And they hope this marks the beginning of the end of the John Rocker saga, that they can now put it behind them.

John Rocker showed up for spring training today, and he was extremely affable with the fans and with the media. He signed autographs for the Braves fans, who are still John Rocker fans, many of whom told him to keep his chin up and just stick it out, and that everything would be OK; they were encouraging words.

Before all that, he met with the media, but Rocker would not take questions; he simply answered -- he simply read a statement where he said that he was sorry for not being the kind of role model that kids needed and for the insensitive remarks that he made.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN ROCKER, PITCHER, ATLANTA BRAVES: In the December issue of "Sports Illustrated," I made several comments of which I am ashamed. In reading the article, I realized that in three major areas I have hurt people. It was not intentional, but, nevertheless, there was damage done.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZARRELLA: The first thing John Rocker did, when he showed up here at the spring training facility, was to meet behind closed doors with the other members of the Braves team. And they tell us that Rocker said that he was humble and that he was sorry for what had transpired and that he, too, wanted to put all of this behind them. But the Braves players, some of them say, it may still be a while before all is forgiven.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) WALT WEISS, SECOND BASEMAN, ATLANTA BRAVES: I don't think there is any doubt he's been humbled. I mean, I think that the tone that he addressed the team with was one of remorse. I don't -- I think it was genuine. I don't think there is any question about that. And I think it is important for this team to use this as a positive and bring us together. You know, I think, you know, grace goes a long way, especially when you receive it.

OZZIE GUILLEN, SHORTSTOP, ATLANTA BRAVES: Believe me, he's a great guy. He's maybe immature or stupid or ignorant or whatever you want to call, but he's a great kid.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZARRELLA: The question, now, is: How long will John Rocker be an Atlanta Brave? There is speculation that he is on the trading table. The Braves have been made offers for John Rocker.

Right now, General Manager John Schuerholz says he is not trading him. But that could certainly change. And Rocker might not be an Atlanta Brave when his suspension ends in the middle of April.

This is John Zarrella, reporting live from Lake Buena Vista, Florida.

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