Strawberry says he thought about suicide Another disastrous season has Dodger depressed

September 23, 1993|By Los Angeles Times

LOS ANGELES -- There were times this season, Darryl Strawberry says, when he considered suicide, believing that maybe then people wouldn't have anything to say about him anymore.

He claims not to read what is written about him, or hear what is said about him, but he does. Strawberry hears the talk about Orel Hershiser having a higher batting average, about Dodgers fans hating him, about his being a bust on the field. He reads about his being investigated for possible tax fraud, and he has heard all about the alleged homeless couple that is suing him, claiming he struck one of them. Strawberry says he was trying to help them.

But it was Strawberry's most recent controversy that had the Dodgers combing his contract to see if there was a way to void it. Glendale, Calif., police came to his home and arrested him in front of his children for striking his live-in girlfriend.

Other times in his storied off-the-field career, Strawberry could, and did, silence his critics with his bat. But this season, trying to come back from back surgery last September, Strawberry only drew more negative attention to himself.

He was never a star fielder, but this season, mediocre would have been an improvement.

And at the plate, the quick-wrist shots that propelled balls over fences turned into awkward half-swings that popped balls over backstops. Much of the time, foul balls were the best Strawberry had to offer Dodgers fans this season.

June 16 was it for Strawberry, who put himself on the disabled list. He hasn't played since.

But if his bad back stopped him, it didn't stop the critics. As the Dodgers' need for a left-handed power hitter -- or any kind of hitter -- kept them out of the race, Strawberry says his spirits plummeted.

The Dodgers took a hard-line stance, treating him as one of the pack instead of a superstar. That had not happened before. Fred Claire, Dodgers executive vice president, let it be known that Strawberry was considered merely one of 25 players.

And the next time Strawberry was late for his rehabilitation program, Claire fined him a day's pay -- more than $19,000 -- and issued a news release about it.

On the day he was late, he had called, but his excuse wasn't good enough for Claire. Strawberry finally had met his match.

"I thought, 'What would it be like if I wasn't around anymore?' " Strawberry said this week of his thoughts about suicide. "There wouldn't be any problems if I wasn't around. Then people wouldn't have anything else to say.

"I had been stressed out and in deep depression all year. The one thing I didn't want to have to do this season is go through everything again after going through it in '92. And that's what happened. It was a living nightmare."

On Monday, the Los Angeles County District Attorney's office said it would not seek charges against Strawberry, saying that Charisse Simons had provoked him into hitting her by poking his tender back with a bat.

Strawberry spoke Tuesday from former Dodger Reggie Smith's office in Phoenix, where Claire sent him to play in the club's instructional league.

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