What passes for some friction in spring training--Luis Castillo not communicating his whereabouts in the days leading up to the deadline for position playes to report--is tame compared to spring training of years past.
Darryl Strawberry had his share of moments.
Here's an episode from 1987. It was written by then-Newsday reporter Tom Verducci.
Mets manager Dave Johnson yesterday fined Darryl Strawberry $500
for missing a workout Saturday and then tacked on a $1,000 fine when
Strawberry walked out of the team's camp yesterday morning.
Strawberry drove away from the team's clubhouse at 9:50 a.m. after
what one player described as "a shouting match" with Johnson. Strawberry
returned 95 minutes later. He said he would pay the $1,500 in fines.
However, Strawberry's resignation about paying the fines did not
resolve the issue. The player and the manager did not speak after
Strawberry returned. As of yesterday, the last words between the two
were spoken by Johnson, who ended their quarrel by saying, "Then please
leave. Go home. "
Their relationship, which has included several stormy incidents, has
never been worse. Neither Johnson nor Strawberry indicated they had
plans to meet with the other. The hostility moved reporters to ask
Strawberry whether he wants to continue playing in New York.
"I won't say," Strawberry responded. "I'll keep that to myself. Davey
told my agent [Richie Bry] that if I don't watch myself, I might be
playing on another team. Maybe he don't want me around. Who knows?
"The only thing I can do is go out and play. I'll stay to myself and
stay my distance away from him. What makes it so bad is that I turn out
to be the bad guy. I walk off and I get fined. My name gets in the paper
for all the negative things. I'm getting fed up with it. A person can
only take so much. "
Johnson denied telling Bry that Strawberry's place on the team was in
jeopardy. Bry said Strawberry misunderstood what Johnson had told the
"I didn't say anything of that nature; it never crossed my mind,"
said Johnson, who grew obviously angrier as he discussed the events.
"Talk is cheap. I'll do anything I can to help any one of my players,
Darryl included. Certainly we need him. I don't need him if he doesn't
have his priorities straight.
"I have 31 guys on this team who come to play every day on time. I've
got one guy who's a little suspect. "
It was only 27 days ago - on his first day in camp - that
Strawberry promised that his personal problems were behind him. His
wife, Lisa, has filed for separation. "If I drag myself down," he said
then, "the more my career is going to go downhill. "
But about 10 days ago, Johnson issued Strawberry a warning for
showing up late for a workout. "I could have fined him," Johnson said.
Strawberry said he was three minutes late. When told of that, Johnson
laughed and said, "Three minutes or 30 minutes, he was late. "
Then, on Saturday, Strawberry missed a 10 a.m. workout at the Mets'
Huggins-Stengel practice field. Strawberry said he arrived for batting
practice at the Payson Complex - where the Mets' minor-leaguers train
- "about noon. " Johnson said it was 1 p.m.
Johnson was angry that Strawberry did not telephone the club to say he
would be late.
"I'm the most lenient manager in the big leagues," Johnson said. "If
you need an off day or are going to be late, call me. I haven't turned
down anybody in three years. "
Johnson allowed Keith Hernandez to miss the morning workout
yesterday. He granted a request by Hernandez to report directly to the
afternoon game so he could drive his daughters to the Tampa airport.
Strawberry admitted he made a mistake by not calling Johnson. He
said he missed the workout because he overslept and because of "personal
problems. " His 2-year-old son, Darryl Jr. - whom he is seeking custody
of - is in town. Johnson allowed Strawberry a day off last Wednesday
to be with the child.
Two days later, Darryl Jr. was in the Mets' clubhouse and an
attendant reminded Strawberry that no children are permitted there.
Strawberry told the attendant, "That's another reason why I've got to
get out of here. "
When it was suggested that fans might perceive that his personal
problems are indeed affecting his career, Strawberry said, "The hell
with the fans, too. I'm just going to play. If they don't like me, they
don't like me. And you guys [reporters] are going to write negative
things, too. Go ahead. If you bury me and run me out of New York, that's
fine with me. "
When Strawberry arrived at Huggins-Stengel Field yesterday morning,
he found a note at his locker from Johnson that informed him he was
"I knew I'd get fined, but I thought it was too high," Strawberry
said. "But I was upset because I didn't get a chance to explain it. I
didn't get no time to explain anything. I think Davey was mad about
something else this morning. He sure as hell took it out on me. "
Johnson told Strawberry he did not want to discuss the fine. "He
wasn't late," Johnson said. "He missed the whole workout. He said he
overslept. It's cut and dried. When you're late, you get fined. There
was nothing to discuss.
"He indicated to me that he wasn't going to work out today. I said,
`Then please leave. Go home. ' "
Strawberry returned to his locker, still dressed in a blue warmup
suit while virtually all of his teammates were in uniform for their
workout. "I just said, `Forget it, I'll go back home,' " Strawberry
After he drove to his apartment here, Strawberry received a telephone
call from Bry and Jay Horwitz, the Mets' director of public relations.
Strawberry said they convinced him to return. He arrived at the
clubhouse at 11:15 a.m. Dwight Gooden was the only Met to speak with
him. Strawberry attended but did not play in the Mets' game against the
Reds. He spoke to reporters after the game.
"I don't think I brought this on myself," he said. "How can you bring
it on yourself when you don't have a chance to explain? Obviously, he
didn't want to hear anything. I figured I'd make it to the park
[Saturday]. I was just late. He said he was fining me and said, `Have it
on my desk tomorrow. ' Who the [bleep] am I if he can't even talk to me?
I'm one of his players. "Everything is negative about me. It seems things happen to other
guys and nobody has nothing to say about them. It really [ticks] me off.
It's just sad, too. I do everything I can to help this club win and I
get nothing out of it."
* * *
Two years after this episode, Strawberry threw a punch at Keith Hernandez on photo day in spring training.