NEW YORK -- Don Mattingly received a personal letter from deputy commissioner Steve Greenberg last night in which the Yankees first baseman was, in effect, scolded for indirect tampering with Darryl Strawberry.
The letter, on Major League Baseball stationery, explained to Mattingly how his comments two Sundays ago could be construed as tampering with the Mets outfielder.
In that story, which was attached to the letter, Mattingly said he felt signing Strawberry should be a priority for the Yankees. Mattingly said Strawberry would fill a lot of holes for the Yankees.
"I have tremendous respect for Don Mattingly and I'm sure that what he said was out of a desire that the Yankees return to former glory," Greenberg said last night. "[But] it is our view that no one in baseball -- a player, a front-office person or a manager -- should be making statements that could be construed as tampering toward a player on another team, especially in the heat of a pennant race. It could be a distraction."
Mattingly also said he felt the Mets had backed Strawberry "into a corner" with their hard-handed dealing. In the story, Mattingly also made a joking remark about how the Yankees should go after Dwight Gooden when the Mets' pitcher becomes a free agent after next season.
The thrust of the story was that Mattingly said he would like to give Strawberry a call to tell him how much the Yankees would like to have him.
The Mets were said to be incensed at what they felt was a clear case of tampering.
The deputy commissioner threatened Mattingly with disciplinary action if any such quotes were again attributed to him.
Mattingly received the letter before last night's game with the Orioles and read it quietly in front of his locker, occasionally stopping to shake his head in amazement. He also took the time to read over the story, which had appeared when the Yankees were in Detroit. After reading the story, Mattingly agreed that his quotes were accurate.