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Vaughn hopes to clear his name after man says Mo punched him

Mo Vaughn's eye and reputation took a hit when he was involved in a bar scuffle during his MVP season two years ago. Now accused of punching a man in the face at a nude dance club, the Boston Red Sox first baseman said Sunday he'll do what it takes to prove his innocence.

"If he wants to go to the end, we'll go to the end," Vaughn said of the man who complained to police that Vaughn punched him early Saturday. "That doesn't bother me. Legal fees don't bother me, either. I just want to get it cleared up."Scott Bird, 24, of North Olmsted, Ohio, alleged that the 1995 AL MVP punched him during an argument over someone being burned with a cigarette. The altercation allegedly took place in the doorway of a strip club called Tiffany's Cabaret at 2:30 a.m. Saturday, said Cleveland police Sgt. Mark Hastings.

Bird told the Associated Press by telephone Sunday that he had spoken with a lawyer and would seek charges against Vaughn on Monday.

Vaughn showed no signs of having been in a fight and went 1-for-3 as Boston beat the Cleveland Indians 6-3 Saturday.

"I wasn't even in there," Vaughn said before Sunday's game. "We were at Shooters, and we came out in the parking lot. Everybody was leaving."

Shooters and Tiffany's share a parking lot in the city's nightclub district, known as the Flats. Vaughn said he and several friends were in the parking lot and saw a disturbance in the doorway of Tiffany's.

"I didn't put my hands up all night," Vaughn said. "If I saw this guy's face right now, I wouldn't even know it. I looked back, and I saw somebody falling over."

When interviewed Saturday, Bird seemed unsure whether it was really Vaughn who hit him. He said, "I was in a daze, it was chaos" and "as far as I'm concerned, it was Mo Vaughn" who punched him.

Bird told the AP on Sunday that he had witnesses who could place Vaughn in the strip club and identify him as the one who threw the punch.

"My friend saw him and said, `Hey, that's Mo Vaughn,' " Bird said. "He went over to him because he has him in a Rotisserie league and said, `Mo, what's up?' And then (Vaughn's) bodyguards threw him away."

Of the altercation, Bird said, "It was Mo. Yeah, he was standing right in front of me and the fist flew right in front of me."

Bird said he was unsure whether he would seek a criminal or civil case.

"We'll see," he said.

Vaughn, who received a swollen eye in a scuffle at a Boston bar in 1995, scoffed at the man's account.

"He said he saw a bunch of black faces and then a hand," Vaughn said, shaking his head. "He didn't even know who hit him."

Team spokesman Kevin Shea did not return a telephone call Sunday. He said earlier that the club was investigating the allegation.

"As far as I'm concerned, he's innocent," manager Jimy Williams said.

Bird told police that a woman who was with Vaughn complained that a friend, Lawrence Kopittke, burned her with a cigarette, Hastings said. Bird said he and Vaughn exchanged words, and Vaughn punched him in the right side of the face, Hastings said, reading the report.

Bird was treated at the Cleveland Clinic and told police he had loose teeth and a cut lip. Hastings said the prosecutor's office would be advised of the report. Charges cannot be filed unless Bird pursues it because police did not see the fight.

"It's his burden to do so," Hastings said.

Vaughn, who entered Sunday's game batting .335 with 22 homers and 52 RBIs, said he didn't know of the police complaint until a reporter asked him about it Saturday. Vaughn, 29, said he called his mother and told her it wasn't true.

"My mom said, `Did you do it?' " Vaughn said. "And I said, `No, I didn't do it.' She said, `You need to stay inside forever.' Maybe I do.

"I'm going to be 30 years old, and I still feel bad calling home about something like that."

Vaughn was involved in a scuffle at a Boston bar in July 1995 in which he said he was defending his girlfriend. Vaughn and another man filed police complaints against each other, but no charges were filed.

The 6-foot-1, 240-pound first baseman missed two games and gave an emotional apology when he confronted the media with a swollen eye. Vaughn is active in community service in New England, especially with youth, and always had a good reputation in baseball.

"If I was the type of person who was always out bringing fights to people, that's what you'd expect," Vaughn said. "That's not my style, my mentality. I kind of regard myself as an easy-going guy like anybody else. But you can't live in a box, either."