BRIARCLIFF MANOR, N.Y. – Joe Torre kept coming back to the same word when asked about former Mets and Yankees hurler Dwight Gooden following multiple substance-abuse arrests in the past six weeks.
"Sadness,” Torre said before teeing off at a golf outing Thursday to benefit his Safe at Home Foundation at Sleepy Hollow Country Club. “For people to criticize, which has happened not only with Doc, but with [Darryl] Strawberry, too, I guess you have to be in their body to realize what they have to fight all the time.
"It saddens me, because Doc is such a pleasant personality. But he's got some demons that he's had trouble exorcising. I'm happy for Straw because he seems to have gotten through that dark hole, but I saw that the other day [with Gooden], and it's the only word I can use: sad."
Gooden, 54, texted Newsday that he is “going away for a while to try and save my life" after the 1985 NL Cy Young Award winner was arrested Monday night in Newark, New Jersey, and charged with driving while intoxicated. He also was arrested on cocaine possession charges on June 7 in Holmdel, New Jersey.
Gooden, who won a World Series title with the 1986 Mets and two more with Torre’s Yankees in 1996 and 2000, added that his latest relapse represents “the worst I've ever been through all my struggles.”
Gooden’s career was derailed multiple times by substance-abuse problems. He spent seven months in prison in 2006.
“The thing that gets to you the most is that if you know Doc, he doesn’t have a bad bone in his body,” 1986 Mets teammate Lee Mazzilli said at Torre’s golf outing. “He has some demons that he obviously still has to shake, and that’s really sad for all of us, but everyone that knows him is pulling for him and wants to help him.
“I wish I had an answer or a magic wand, but we all just want to see him get better.”
Notes & quotes: After attending Mariano Rivera’s Hall of Fame induction ceremony Sunday in Cooperstown, Torre expects Derek Jeter to join his longtime teammate in gaining unanimous election next year. “I certainly believe Derek will be unanimous. I can’t see anybody leaving him off their ballot," Torre said. "I really can’t."
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