Darryl Strawberry yesterday called the three women who have filed a civil suit against New York Mets pitcher David Cone "a bunch of pigs" who have a history of harassing the team, including baring their breasts while the players were on the team bus.
"It's important for society to know people can say things, but the things they were doing were ridiculous," Strawberry said before the Mets played the Los Angeles Dodgers yesterday. "It's important that people know that. Yes, I'm jumping to Coney's side. For them to come out and say this after what they've done over the years, it's not right.
"As disgusting as these women are, man, that's bad. It's not like they're some classy ladies. They're a bunch of pigs going after Coney like that. . . . They're picking on Coney because he's making $4 million."
The three women have filed an $8.1 million civil suit that in part alleges that Cone masturbated in the Mets' bullpen before a game in 1989. That claim was included in the lawsuit only last week, six months after the suit originally was filed.
* YANKEES: Pitcher Steve Howe departed spring training with his family and returned home to Montana for a date with federal officials.
Howe, whose baseball future is in peril because he faces two federal misdemeanor cocaine charges, has to attend a pretrial hearing in Missoula, Mont., today.
In the hearing, Howe's lawyers will attempt to suppress a confession, because they say Howe was coerced after he was arrested Dec. 19 in Kalispell, Mont., on a cocaine possession charge. Howe's side is also seeking to have the charges dismissed on the basis of selective prosecution.
* PHILLIES: Jose DeJesus pitched against a major-league opponent for the first time this spring and, unless the twinge in his right pitching shoulder comes back, he'll go north with the team for the April 7 season opening.
DeJesus, the No. 3 starter in the Phillies' five-man rotation, pitched three innings in a 6-3 loss to the Boston Red Sox.