Dwight Gooden's lawyer yesterday challenged reports that genetic tests link the New York Mets pitcher to stains on the dress of a woman who says he raped her a year ago.
Joseph Ficarrotta wouldn't confirm that Gooden had sex with the woman, and said the question is irrelevant to the case.
"The whole issue in this case is whether or not criminal laws have been broken. Our position is, they were not," Ficarrotta said.
He claimed preliminary DNA tests linking Gooden's court-ordered blood sample to semen stains on the New York woman's dress would never hold up in court.
"We're looking forward to litigating the issue of this so-called DNA match where it belongs, not in the press but in the courtroom, where the testing method will be subject to cross-examination," Ficarrotta said.
The lawyer also cast doubt on the condition of the dress the woman said she was wearing the night she alleges Gooden and outfielders Vince Coleman and Daryl Boston raped her.
"Even law enforcement is uncertain about how that dress was kept," Ficarrotta said. "We don't know if she kept it in the trunk of her car or an unheated apartment, or with clothes that might have someone else's semen on it."
Bernard Dempsey, the woman's lawyer, was in a meeting yesterday and couldn't be reached for comment.
Meanwhile, the Mets players lifted their self-imposed ban on communicating with the news media. The ban was in response to media coverage of the rape charges and a civil suit filed against pitcher David Cone, charging sexual harassment.
Saying they had reclaimed their clubhouse yesterday, the players made bold claims of the boycott's value, insights into the political intrigue behind the decisions to impose and then end the silence, threats of repeating the boycott and a request that the commissioner's office formally investigate tactics employed by certain members of the news media in covering the Mets this spring.
The Mets players charged yesterday that their privacy had been invaded this spring in ways that might have amounted to criminal behavior. According to Cone, the club's union representative, the players believe they have evidence that cellular-phone conversations were monitored, residences stalked and at least one camera placed inside the house of a player.
Pittsburgh reached the 25-man roster limit by optioning left-hander Rosario Rodriguez to Triple-A Buffalo.
Rodriguez, 22, has had tendinitis in his left shoulder throughout spring training. He pitched three innings in three exhibition games.
Rodriguez spent time with both Pittsburgh and Buffalo last season. He was 1-1 with six saves and a 4.11 ERA in 18 Pirates games and 4-3 with eight saves and a 3.00 ERA in 48 games with Buffalo.
Nick Esasky hasn't played in the major leagues in nearly two years since being stricken with vertigo. He may never play at that level again.
Esasky, who has has been working out every day this spring with Atlanta and playing in minor-league games, wants only to play somewhere in the organization. He hopes he can make it all the way back.
Esasky, 32, was stricken with spells of dizziness and lightheadedness during the spring of 1990, only months after signing a three-year, $5.6 million contract with the Braves. The first baseman played in only nine games, batting .171.
"Everything was perfect until then, and it all was taken away from me," said Esasky, who had come off a career year with the Red Sox, hitting 30 home runs and driving in 108 runs.
After tests and more than a year of treatment and exercises to improve hand-eye coordination, he's gone as far as he can.
"I'm looking halfway decent," Esasky said. "Things don't look foreign and I've hit the ball hard a couple of times and I've gotten a few hits. I don't know what the Braves' plans are for me, but I want to start somewhere. I'd like to break spring camp here, start on a rehabilitation schedule and get ready to go back up."