Merrill criticizes Mattingly dHC

May 21, 1991

Stump Merrill had a message for Don Mattingly last night. Well aware Mattingly had been an outspoken critic of Sunday's announcement that the New York Yankees were moving Steve Sax to third to make room for rookie second baseman Pat Kelly, Merrill was cautious in his criticism of Mattingly but critical nonetheless.

"Don has been great for me, great for the team," Merrill said. "But since when did players get involved in management decisions? They all have opinions. Sometimes it's better to keep it to yourself and sometimes it's not. Sure, it's a delicate situation. The last thing we need is any controversy."

Apprised of Merrill's comments, Mattingly said: "I don't want to be involved with their decisions. There is freedom of speech. I can say what I want and not be involved. I have nothing against Pat Kelly. . . . I just want us to win and make serious long-term decisions."

Mattingly didn't back down from his belief the Yankees are creating a situation that will lead to Sax seeking separation from the team. "He's a hard player," Mattingly said. "He plays to win. I'm reacting personally."

* RED SOX: Pete Runnels, who won American League batting titles with the Boston Red Sox in 1960 and 1962, died yesterday in Pasadena, Texas, three days after he had a stroke. He was 63.

He began his major-league career with the Washington Senators in 1951 and played for them through 1957. He played for the Red Sox from 1958 through 1962. He batted .320 in 1960 and .326 in 1962.

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