Strawberry: Talk with team a dead issue

Darryl Strawberry salutes the rowd after throwing out

Darryl Strawberry salutes the rowd after throwing out the first pitch at Citi Field Monday, April 5, 2010. (Credit: Photo by David Pokress)

Saying he acted out of his "love for the Mets," Darryl Strawberry insisted Thursday that there are no lingering hard feelings regarding the fallout from his talk to players last week in Washington.

In an interview with Newsday, he called it a dead issue. "It's done and over with," he said. "I'm part of this organization. I was in spring training with these guys and I care about them."

A recent Daily News report said several players took offense to Strawberry's clubhouse talk, something Jeff Francoeur and Jason Bay have since denied. Still, Francoeur said Wednesday that several players have reached out to Strawberry to make sure the former Mets slugger still feels welcome.

"I'm great with them," Strawberry said. "I'm great with these guys. I'm not one of these ex-players who has bitterness toward situations. I just wanted them to know that I care for you and I know you're better than how you're playing and I said, 'Let's go.'

"That's really what it was all about for me. It wasn't anything personal or wasn't anything to ride on anybody. It was just to encourage them on how good they are."

In his third season as one of the Mets' four "club ambassadors," Strawberry said he felt inclined to speak in part because he knows how suffocating it can be to struggle in New York. He said he reminded players to focus on baseball, not what outsiders are saying about them.

"This team is capable of winning and they have all the talent," Strawberry said. "I was just letting them know they should stop concerning themselves with everything else."

A Met from 1983-90, Strawberry is the franchise leader in home runs (252), RBIs (733) and runs scored (662). He threw out the ceremonial first pitch on Opening Day and will be inducted into the Mets' Hall of Fame Aug. 1. He also is an occasional in-studio analyst on SNY, the team-owned network.

"I care for them and I want to see them do well," Strawberry said. "That's all it is: my concern for them as a team overall, how good they are and how good they can be. I'm part of it."

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