Coleman through as Met, team says Player to remain on paid leave in '93

August 27, 1993|By Marty Noble | Marty Noble,Newsday

NEW YORK -- Brought here in December 1990 to run the New York Mets into the World Series, Vince Coleman yesterday was run out of town. Citing the best interests of Coleman and the club, Mets co-owner Fred Wilpon changed Vincent Can Go into Vincent Van Gone.

"He will not play here again, as a Met," Wilpon said, seemingly bringing the month-old situation to an unofficial but decisive end.

Wilpon made his declaration after addressing the team -- Coleman was not present -- and after announcing the club would take no new action regarding Coleman until after Oct. 8, when Coleman's arraignment hearing on a felony charge of possession of an explosiveis complete.

Instead, the club has decided, with the consent of Coleman, the players union and baseball's ruling Executive Council, that Coleman will remain on so-called "administrative leave" through the end of the season. He has been on leave with pay since Aug. 12, having been granted a six-day leave of absence without pay before that.

While leaving little question about Coleman's status, Wilpon raised vague questions about the immediate futures of other Mets players.

The owner characterized Coleman as a player lacking the selflessness necessary for team success and said "a number" of other players on the current roster warrant similar characterization.

In what he said was his first address to the team in his 14 years of ownership, Wilpon also told the players they were privileged to be in the major leagues and playing in New York; that, as professional athletes, they do have responsibilities to the public and to their employers and "if any of them chose not to live by the rules of baseball and the good rules of society, just ask out. We'll do whatever the hell we can to get them out of here."

Wilpon said he didn't tell the players of the decision regarding Coleman. "No one asked the question," he said. But he doubted any player would be surprised by it. Wilpon also indicated that, to the best of his knowledge, Coleman was unaware of the decision.

Manager Dallas Green said Coleman played "very well for me for whatever reason" but he also said that Coleman's first priority wasn't always what was best for the team.

Speaking for himself and for fellow owner Nelson Doubleday, who was out of town, Wilpon read a statement he had written yesterday morning. "Our reasoning for maintaining the status quo," he read, "is to afford additional time for any further facts to be revealed."

After Coleman's attorney gained an adjournment of the hearing, Major League Baseball conducted an investigation of the July 24 incident in Los Angeles, in which Coleman tossed an explosive out of a Jeep driven by Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Eric Davis as the two and Bobby Bonilla were leaving the players' parking lot at Dodgers Stadium.

The Mets interviewed Coleman on Tuesday. But according to Wilpon and Mets counsel David Howard, Coleman didn't respond to certain questions at the suggestion of his attorney and the players union. "We have reserved all our rights to complete our investigation and take disciplinary action following the Oct. 8 hearing," Wilpon read.

To accomplish what Wilpon said will happen, the Mets can release Coleman, paying his $3 million salary for 1994; terminate the contract without pay, a move that almost certainly would prompt a grievance from the union; or trade him -- if a taker could be found. There also is the possibility, Howard said, of suspending Coleman without salary for a period next season and then following the suspension with a release.

Neither Coleman nor his agent, Richman Bry, was available for comment.

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