Baseball suspends Gooden for 1995

November 05, 1994|By Murray Chass | Murray Chass,New York Times News Service

NEW YORK -- Pitcher Dwight Gooden, continuing to test positive for cocaine use, yesterday was suspended for the entire 1995 season.

The New York Mets right-hander, whose career has been in decline, has 15 days left of a 60-day drug-related suspension that was interrupted by the players strike, and he will serve an additional 168 days, the balance of the 1995 season, on the suspended list.

The commissioner's office, providing no details, said the latest suspension was for repeated violations of his after-care program and baseball's drug policy. A person involved in Major League Baseball said Gooden had failed "a bunch of tests" since he twice tested positive for cocaine not long after finishing drug rehabilitation in August.

After the positive tests in early September, baseball officials and doctors deliberately did not take further disciplinary steps; their object was to give Gooden a chance with his three tests a week to show why he should not suffer an additional significant penalty. But, the person said, "multiple tests" in the interim showed continued use of cocaine.

The developments left a sad portrait of a young man who was a Rookie of the Year at the age of 19, a Cy Young Award winner at 20 and a member of a World Series champion team at 21 who now, nearly 30, faces a bleak future.

Gooden last pitched June 24. If he tries to come back in 1996, he will have not pitched for more than a season and a half. There is a chance the suspension could be reconsidered in July, but Gooden would have to demonstrate a dramatic turnaround.

Gooden, who has spent his entire 11-year career with the Mets, )) declared free agency Oct. 24.

"Right now our only concern is for Dwight Gooden the person," said Joe McIlvaine, the Mets' executive vice president for baseball operations. "Any speculation about his baseball future is secondary and unimportant."

McIlvaine said the Mets have no intention of signing Gooden at this time. No other team can sign him, even though he's a free agent, because he is on the suspended list. Without a contract, he will receive no pay next year.

Jim Neader, Gooden's agent, said the pitcher declined to comment.

"He knew there would be some more discipline coming, so it wasn't a surprise," Neader said.

Neader did not discuss his client's drug use or failed tests, but said Gooden might undergo further rehabilitation.

Gooden, who underwent rehabilitation at Smithers Institute in New York in 1987, spent 23 days at the Betty Ford Clinic in Palm Springs, Calif., following his 60-day suspension June 28.

"Dwight Gooden needs to get his life in order," McIlvaine said. "He has been offered the best assistance baseball and the New York Mets have. . . . and has not taken advantage of this guidance and help. . . . Dwight needs to demonstrate that same degree of competitiveness to defeat a far more insidious enemy that is sucking the life out of him both personally and professionally."

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