Darryl Strawberry failed to show up for practice today, a day after he took a swing at teammate Keith Hernandez, and the New York Mets announced they would fine the contentious right fielder.
Strawberry left camp Thursday in a contract dispute but had left open the possibility of returning today. Part of the team was in Miami for an exhibition game with the Baltimore Orioles, but most of the regulars, including Strawberry, were scheduled to work out at the training complex in Port St. Lucie.
"He did not come into camp for the workout at 10 o'clock this morning, and we're hopeful he'll be there tomorrow," Al Harazin, Mets senior vice president, said. "In the meantime, we have advised Darryl that for every day he is out of camp, he is in violation of his uniform playing contract, and we're fining him an undisclosed sum for each day he misses.
"I think Darryl is anxious to get something done. It is not easy to do things overnight. It is particularly difficult in this situation because we still do have two years to go on Darryl's current contract and, since our policy is not to renegotiate, that limits what you can do on reaching an agreement.
'Your Baby Stuff'
"Davey Johnson (Mets manager) talked to him briefly this morning, but I don't know that I can say Darryl will be in camp tomorrow or won't be in camp tomorrow. None of us relish this, but I would much rather this happen on March 1 than April 1."
The trouble began when the Mets were assembling for a team picture Thursday. Hernandez said to Strawberry, "I'm tired of your baby stuff."
Strawberry replied with an obscenity, the two of them pointed fingers and Strawberry swung at Hernandez before pitcher Dwight Gooden restrained Strawberry and relief pitcher Randy Myers grabbed Hernandez.
"Something grazed me in the cheek, a backhand," Hernandez said. "I don't think he (Strawberry) wanted to hit me."
Strawberry, Hernandez and Johnson met afterward with the team psychologist.
Strawberry, who led the league with 39 homers, drove in 101 runs and was second in MVP voting last year, wants to renegotiate and extend a five-year contract he signed in 1985. The All-Star right fielder will earn $1.4 million this year, with an option for $1.8 million in 1990.
He went to camp this year vowing to be a team leader.
Ranks 6th in Pay
He became disenchanted with his contract, however, because he is the sixth highest-paid player on the team behind Hernandez, catcher Gary Carter and three who have just signed contracts--Gooden ($6.7 million over three years) and pitcher Ron Darling ($5.3 million) and left fielder Kevin McReynolds ($5.5 million).
General Manager Frank Cashen said he is familiar with the problem.
"Every time somebody gets envious and their pride is hurt, I can't pay them," Cashen said. "But most of all, I cannot abandon the principals on which we built this franchise.