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Wife says Cox didn't strike her

ATLANTA — ATLANTA -- Seventeen hours after Atlanta Braves manager Bobby Cox was jailed briefly and charged with striking his wife, Pam Cox sat alongside her husband yesterday afternoon and contradicted the police account of what had happened Sunday night at their suburban home.

Cox was charged with simple battery for allegedly punching her and pulling her hair.

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"No, no," Pam Cox said at a stadium news conference, when asked if she had told officers that Cox hit her.

According to the couple, the charge will be dropped soon, although a May 26 hearing is scheduled.

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Bobby Cox, 53, was arrested at about 10:15 p.m. Sunday at his home, which abuts the Atlanta Country Club in the city's northwest suburbs. He was released on $1,000 bond early yesterday and returned home.

Cox was in the dugout for last night's Philadelphia Phillies-Braves game, and he and general manager John Schuerholz said no other option, such as a leave of absence, had been considered.

"There was no hitting of any sort," Cox said. "I grabbed her forehead and her hair a little bit, just to keep her away from me, because we were both going at it pretty good."

A report filed by Gil Padilla, a Cobb County police officer, said that Cox had struck his wife before.

Pam Cox "stated this has occurred many times before, but [she] never called the police because of possible media attention" and the effect on their children, the report said.

The manager initially denied that any of the couple's arguments -- which he said had intensified in the last few months -- involved violence. Pressed about the discrepancy with the police report, he later said that two years into their 18-year marriage, his wife and he had exchanged slaps.

"We did not discuss our past history [with the police]. Period," said Pam Cox, 40.

Pam Cox's face appeared red, and there was swelling around her eyes.

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"That's from crying and vomiting," her husband said. "Pam was very upset."

He acknowledged that after leaving Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium on Sunday afternoon, after his team's third straight loss to the Phillies, he had had drinks at parties at the country club, where the PGA's BellSouth Classic had just ended. He said that he had gone home later, and that he and his wife had been joined by several other couples.

"It was a domestic dispute that had been brewing a little while -- six months, I guess," said Bobby Cox, who was wearing a suit and tie at the news conference. "I hadn't been paying much attention to what's been going on at home. Basically, when the season's on, I guess, it's always been all baseball.

"There was a drink spilled, which really didn't create the argument, but because it's been a deal that's been happening for several months, it just started, and I said something under my breath that I shouldn't have. Pam heard it, along with another family that was on their way out, and when they left, we got into an argument. Basically, that was it."

During the argument, Cox said, his wife told him to leave, and he refused. According to his wife, when police arrived shortly after 10 p.m., she asked if her husband could just be put to bed and was surprised when he was escorted out of the house and into a police car.

"I was very, very angry," she said of the argument. "As our voices escalated, we became more angry at each other, and I simply wanted him out of the house. I asked them to let him go to bed. They didn't really tell me anything. Next thing I know, they were going out the door with him. I never signed a warrant or anything.

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"I wish I had handled it another way," she said. "We've had eight children in 18 years of marriage. We've had our share of problems. I do regret it for them, for me and for Bobby."

The police report said Bobby Cox had been intoxicated. Pam Cox said alcohol was not a factor.

"We had some drinks," her husband said. "Pam drinks very little. Nobody was intoxicated. We realized what was going on."

Instead, the couple said, the argument was triggered by frustration over the manager's absences, especially the 10 weeks he was away for spring training this year.

"It was just a personal problem due to the extended spring training," Pam Cox said. "Alcohol and a spilled drink had nothing to do with it. It was something the two of us need to sit down and talk about."

Cox said that he and his wife would continue to live together, and that he never had considered asking for a leave of absence. "No," he said. "I feel good about managing tonight."



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