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Sweeney expresses concern
09/30/2004 1:41 PM ET
KANSAS CITY -- Royals team captain Mike Sweeney expressed shock and dismay Thursday when he learned that Cleveland pitcher Kyle Denney had been shot after the Indians' game here Wednesday night.

Denney was wounded in the right calf when a bullet struck an Indians' team bus after leaving Kauffman Stadium for Kansas City International Airport. Team trainers removed the bullet and airport paramedics transferred Denney to an area hospital where he was treated and released.

Indians spokesman Bart Swain said the shot was fired into the side of one of the team's two buses on a ramp between Interstate 70 and I-435, about a half-mile from the stadium.

Outfielder Ryan Ludwick was hit by debris caused by the bullet entering the bus. The rest of the team was unharmed in the incident, which occurred as the Indians were en route to the airport bound for Minneapolis.

"The first thing we can say to the Indians' organization is that we're sorry this occurred and, hopefully, it was just an accident. In any event, it doesn't reflect on Kansas City ... that well," Sweeney said.

"So to Mr. Denney and Mr. Ludwick and the Indians' organization, we apologize and we are definitely going to keep those two guys in our prayers in the next few days and pray for a speedy recovery."

The Royals were cooperating in the investigation.

"Basically, the Royals are assisting in any way possible with the Kansas City Police Department and Major League Baseball," team spokesman Aaron Babcock said.

"It appears that it was a random incident and happened somewhere out on I-70 so it would appear this would not be a case of the Indians being a target, from what the police have indicated to us."

The incident happened just after the Indians completed a three-game sweep with a 5-2 victory in which Denney was the starting pitcher.

"[The players] heard a loud pop and Ludwick felt something," Indians spokesman Bart Swain said. "Then Kyle eventually felt a burning sensation in his right calf. He didn't know what it was, but he reached down and saw blood."

The Indians left the stadium in high spirits with their rookies, including Denney, dressed in women's apparel in an annual initiation rite.

Denney was dressed in a red USC cheerleader's outfit, including a blonde wig and knee-high white boots. The boots might have saved Denney from a more serious injury.

"Because of the boot, the bullet didn't go far into his calf," Swain said. "So that helped him. When [the trainers] opened the boot, the bullet pretty much popped right out."

The Royals experienced their own frightening incident when first-base coach Tom Gamboa was attacked and injured by two fans in Chicago's Comiskey Park on Sept. 19, 2002. Gamboa suffered partial hearing loss as a result of the beating.

"I know Tom Gamboa always said there's going to be some lunatic that's going to come on the field and either going to shoot a player or hurt somebody really badly," Sweeney said.

"Unfortunately, it happened to him and he's always been afraid. But, for me, when I'm on the field I don't ever think about that stuff. But, man, at a time like this it makes you think, 'If it could happen on a team bus, it could happen anywhere.' "

Sweeney was thankful that the incident was not more serious.

"It's just scary and unfortunate that it happened. We'll keep them in our prayers," he said.

"Thank God nobody was seriously hurt. That thing could have easily killed those guys rather than just hurting a calf and going through a pair of pants."

Meanwhile, police and Major League Baseball were investigating the shooting.

"Early indications are that it was a random incident and the bus was in the wrong place at the wrong time," Babcock said.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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