Darryl Strawberry returned to the New York Mets Saturday but said he will leave for good when his contract expires after the 1990 season.
He repeated statements that he made in an interview with The Times in October, saying his fondest hope is to play for his hometown Dodgers--or the San Diego Padres.
“I’ve been unhappy here for too long,” he said. “I’m out, finished. The Mets can offer anything they want and I won’t sign. I don’t consider myself part of their future. I’m done negotiating with them.”
Strawberry said his performance over the next two years won’t be affected by these feelings or the hassle of the last few days.
“If I can have great years like I’ve had while unhappy, think what I could do if I was happy,” he said, privately. “It’s just time for a change, like it was for Eddie Murray.”
The Mets fined Strawberry $750 for missing Friday’s workout. He walked out of camp Thursday after teammates intervened and prevented a fight between Strawberry and Keith Hernandez, who was needling Strawberry about his contract demands.
Strawberry will be paid $1.4 million this year and $1.8 million in 1990, the option year in a five-year, $7.2-million deal signed after the 1986 season.
He has recently sought in vain to have the last two years renegotiated and extended.
“It’s not so much a matter of money as pride,” he said, citing the more lucrative deals that Doc Gooden, Kevin McReynolds, Keith Hernandez, Gary Carter and Ron Darling have received from the Mets since Strawberry signed.
Of Strawberry’s plan to leave after 1990, Al Harazin, the Mets’ senior vice president, said:
“That’s not the kind of talk you like to hear, but I’ve learned that two years can be a long time. I’m not saying he’s not serious, but the thing we’re focusing on now is that he’s back and determined to have a great year. If we win a couple world championships, that might change his mind.”
During individual introductions before Saturday’s game between the Mets and Dodgers, Strawberry trotted out and kissed Hernandez on the cheek. Can it be said that they have kissed and made up? Time will tell.