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Tuesday, April 17
Malone claims fan was verbally abusive

Associated Press

LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles Dodgers are looking into reports that general manager Kevin Malone threatened to fight a San Diego Padres' fan who heckled Gary Sheffield during a game over the weekend.

Jim Esterbrooks, a San Diego season-ticket holder, says Malone began arguing with him Saturday in the first inning of the Padres' 5-4 victory over the Dodgers at Qualcomm Stadium.

"We have had discussions internally, but feel it would not be appropriate to share those discussions publicly," Dodgers senior vice president Derrick Hall said Tuesday.

When asked if Malone would be disciplined, Hall replied, "That has not been determined."

Esterbrooks and others seated in a section behind home plate said Malone challenged him to a fight in defense of Sheffield. Esterbrooks was deriding Sheffield because of comments the star player made about his contract.

Malone did not dispute most of Esterbrooks' account – including that he challenged him to a fight – but said Esterbrooks was the aggressor.

"I hear an individual fan speaking inappropriately about one of our players, the organization and me," Malone told the Los Angeles Times. "He was loud, belligerent, obnoxious and rude. He knew who I was, and I didn't know that at the time."

Malone said he realized Esterbrooks recognized him when he made a comment about "Dodger Boy," a nickname Malone gave himself in a radio interview.

"The guy was being obnoxious and getting on one of our players, getting on the Dodgers and just being rude to me," he said. "I don't believe that my family or the families of our players should suffer the indignities of some fan who wants to act like that."

Malone's son attended the game.

Dodgers chairman Bob Daly declined to comment, but in a recent interview with the Times he acknowledged Malone sometimes puts himself in uncomfortable positions.

"Kevin does say things sometimes that can get people (upset)," Daly said, otherwise praising Malone's performance.

Malone has been involved in controversy in the past.

In November, the Pacific 10 Conference investigated a message he left on the answering machine of UCLA basketball recruit Jamal Sampson of Santa Ana Mater Dei High.

The Pac-10 ruled that the call was a secondary recruiting violation, and Sampson later signed with California.

Shortly after his hiring in September 1998, Malone offended his NL West counterparts with a flippant remark about there being a "new sheriff in town," and engaged in a public feud with Padres general manager Kevin Towers.

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