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05/13/08 7:43 PM ET

Nats not bothered by Figueroa's words

Washington says cheering wasn't meant to offend Mets righty

NEW YORK -- A day after Mets right-hander Nelson Figueroa accused the Nationals of "cheering like softball girls," Washington manager Manny Acta was unfazed by Figueroa's comments.

In fact, Acta said he was surprised that it was such a big issue, and he gave members of the media a reality check. The skipper was more concerned about the residents who lost their homes in Palm Bay, Fla., this week.

"Everybody is entitled to their opinion," Acta said. "We live in a world nowadays where everything you do or say, you are offending someone. I don't have any reaction to [the comments]. They were not yelling names or anything like that. They were cheering their own guys. You don't see it in the big leagues, but I don't think they were doing anything mean. [Figueroa] is entitled to his opinion. This is America."

During Monday's 10-4 victory, the Nationals' dugout was cheering for its teammates, who were scoring in the third inning, and that did not please Figueroa, who gave up six runs -- four earned -- in the game.

"I'm a professional," Figueroa said after the game on Monday. "I take offense to that. They should show a little more class and act a little more professional. That's why they are who they are."

Nationals second baseman Felipe Lopez was on base when the cheering started, and he couldn't understand what all the hoopla was about.

"I heard the cheering and I thought it was funny," Lopez said. "You have to have fun in this game. It was like five minutes. It wasn't like we were doing it every day. We were just trying to have fun. I don't care about anyone on the other team. They don't concern me."

Hitting coach Lenny Harris played with Figueroa when they were with the Diamondbacks in 2000, and Harris was planning to tell Figueroa that there was no malice in what the Nationals were doing. But the Mets' right-hander was designated for assignment on Tuesday afternoon. Harris was going to explain to Figueroa that Washington's bench was quiet, and that outfielder Elijah Dukes was trying to perk up the players.

"They were not trying to throw the pitcher off," Harris said. "He was trying to get the guys motivated -- keep going. That's all they did."

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