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03/29/09 4:16 PM ET

Tavarez apologizes for comments

Veteran's attempt to soothe backlash accepted by assistant GM Rizzo

JUPITER, Fla. -- Nationals right-hander Julian Tavarez was standing near the visitors' clubhouse at Roger Dean Stadium on Sunday morning apologizing for comments he made March 15.

It was Tavarez's first day in camp, and during a session with the media in the hallway at Space Coast Stadium, he compared signing with the Nationals with trying to date Jennifer Lopez.

"Why did I sign with the Nationals?" Tavarez said then. "When you go to a club until 4 a.m. and [are] just waiting, waiting, a 600-pounder looks like J-Lo. And to me, this is Jennifer Lopez right here. It's four in the morning. Too much to drink. All the girls look hot. So the Nationals are Jennifer Lopez to me."

Tavarez, 35, thought the tape recorders were off and didn't think the media would use the comments. But Tavarez's words were circulated around the country, which didn't please the Nationals.

"I want to apologize for the comments that I made. I didn't mean to make those comments," Tavarez said. "I want to apologize to my teammates, all the fans in Washington, my manager and the media. I wasn't serious. It was something I didn't think the media would write down. Things happen in life, and I can correct it. I won't let this happen again.

"I don't want to be on the Nationals' bad side. I just want to get along with everybody -- manager, pitching coach, Minor League guys. I don't want anybody to hate me. I have 16 years in the Major Leagues, and I want to play in this game. I want everybody to know the person that I am."

Apology accepted, said assistant general manager Mike Rizzo.

"I'm glad he apologized," Rizzo said. "He is a professional. He has been at this a long time. I think he probably said it in jest or thought the recorders were off. But he is a professional, and it shows his character that he takes responsibility for the comment and made it right."

Tavarez is a non-roster invitee trying to make the team as a reliever. So far, the results have been mixed. On Saturday, Tavarez made his Nationals debut against the Astros and pitched 1 1/3 innings without giving up a run.

On Sunday, Tavarez started in place of right-hander Daniel Cabrera and gave up three runs in one inning against the Marlins. Shortstop Hanley Ramirez inflicted the damage with a three-run homer.

If he makes the team, Tavarez wants to be a mentor to the young relievers such as Joel Hanrahan and Mike Hinckley.

"I'm going to be in the bullpen with those guys," Tavarez said. "Whatever questions they ask, I'm happy to answer them. I want to tell them they have to be on time, they have to be there for the national anthem and for the first pitch. I have to get to know them, because I don't want them to think because I'm a 16-year veteran I'm picking on them. I will not do that. When I was coming up in the Major Leagues, I was not treated like that."

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.