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Cleveland’s Roberts collides with Ventura

September 8, 1997

CLEVELAND (AP) _ Cleveland Indians second baseman Bip Roberts left Sunday night’s game against the Chicago White Sox after he and Robin Ventura collided in the base path on a force play.

The Indians said Roberts bruised his right knee on the play. Cleveland fans booed Ventura, even though the play was very similar to one in which Albert Belle hit Milwaukee second baseman Fernando Vina with a forearm last year. Belle, now with the White Sox, walked over to Ventura in the dugout and shook his hand after the play.

``I went toward him, and he did nothing wrong,″ said Roberts, who will try to play Monday against Baltimore. ``I initiated the contact.″

Hall of Fame second baseman Joe Morgan, who did color commentary on the game for ESPN, agreed.

``It’s just a good, clean, hard baseball play,″ Morgan said before embracing Roberts in the clubhouse.

Ventura, who missed much of the season after fracturing his foot in spring training, reached on a walk in the sixth and was running to second on Mike Cameron’s grounder. Roberts, who hasn’t played second regularly in at least a year, fielded it and ran toward Ventura, who lowered his shoulder to brace himself as they collided.

Morgan has said all along that Belle’s play was legal, too.

``It wasn’t any more or less,″ he said. ``It doesn’t matter what you do (with your arms). It’s the same play.″

Belle was suspended for two games and fined $25,000 by AL president Gene Budig for the incident in the May 31, 1996 game.

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