Gooden lightens up in contract stance with Mets

February 24, 1991

Dwight Gooden softened his stance about contract negotiations yesterday, but remains disappointed the New York Mets didn't act sooner to talk about his salary.

"I would love to stay in New York," Gooden said after his second spring-training workout. "I love the people, and I love the city."

The Mets' ace right-hander, whose contract expires at the end of this season, had imposed a Friday deadline for the club to reach agreement. He is seeking $16.2 million extension over three years, which would make him the highest-paid player in baseball. The Mets are offering $13 million, which would place him third.

When the Mets came up short, Gooden retaliated by saying he would become a free agent after the season.

"I'm disappointed nothing happened," he said. "I'm disappointed they didn't offer another new deal. I wish they could have done something earlier."

Al Harazin, the Mets' executive vice president, said Friday he hoped for flexibility on Gooden's side after discussing the extension with Gooden's agent Jim Neader for about an hour Friday before Gooden.

"I didn't do that for a threat," Gooden said Saturday.

* REDS: Reliever Rob Dibble, who has begun workouts with Cincinnati despite a contract dispute, was ordered to leave camp in Plant City, Fla., and see a doctor.

Dibble, one of seven unsigned Reds, was sent for immediate medical attention for what team officials called a severe sore throat.

The right-handed reliever had a key role in the Reds' winning the National League West title, the NL pennant and sweeping the Oakland Athletics in the World Series. He compiled an 8-3 record with a 1.74 ERA in 68 games last season.

* INDIANS: First baseman Keith Hernandez, who played in only 43 games for Cleveland last season because of a calf injury, is expected to miss the first two weeks of spring training. Team officials say Hernandez suffers from a lower-back problem.

* RED SOX: Roger Clemens ended a self-imposed spring-training silence begun in 1989 and talked to the media before joining other pitchers and catchers in Boston's first workout.

Clemens said he was more satisfied with his 21-6 record and 1.93 ERA last year than he was with his 24-4 mark in 1986, when he won the Cy Young Award for the first time. But as for the four-year, $21.5 million contract he signed, that's not on his list of conversation pieces.

"I almost feel embarrassed to talk about my contract," Clemens said of the agreement that will pay him an average of more than $5 million a year starting in 1992. "I'm happy with it, I'm in the position I want to be and I'm thankful, but I don't think it proper to talk about it with the war going on."

*INDIANS: First baseman Keith Hernandez, who played in only 43 games for Cleveland last season because of a calf injury, is expected to miss the first two weeks of spring training. Team officials say Hernandez suffers from a lower-back problem.

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