Hoping Dwight Gooden can return from the drug dependency and injuries that reduced a great pitcher to mediocrity, the New York Yankees agreed to a three-year, $6-million contract with the 30-year-old right-hander.
"I feel like I've been to hell and back," Gooden told the Daily News. "I've got a new life and I'm not going to blow this one. I've come a long way from where I was. I've come to grips with my life and learned about myself."
The deal has one guaranteed year for $1 million next season and could be worth $2 million in 1997 and $3 million in 1998 if the Yankees choose to keep him, the New York Times reported.
Gooden, who won the NL Cy Young Award in 1985, a year after he was rookie of the year, was suspended from baseball for 1995 because of violations of his drug aftercare program.
Gooden will go to Puerto Rico next week to play winter ball for San Juan. Former Yankee pitching coach Billy Connors, one of owner George Steinbrenner's top advisers, will monitor Gooden's progress.
Thelma Griffith Haynes, a former co-owner of the Minnesota Twins, died Sunday at Orlando, Fla., at 82.
Haynes and her brother, Calvin Griffith, lived with and later were adopted by their uncle, Clark Griffith, the owner of the Washington Senators, who became the Twins. Haynes and Calvin Griffith each owned 26% of the team before it was sold to Carl Pohlad in 1985.
* Through three games, ratings for the baseball playoffs were up 8% over two years ago.
Friday's night regional coverage of the third games on NBC got a 12.1 rating and a 22 share, Nielsen Media Research said.
The three-game national average is a 13.6 rating and a 23 share, up from a 12.6 rating and 21 share for the first three prime-time playoff telecasts in 1993.
The rating is the percentage of television households tuned to a broadcast and each point represents 959,000 homes. The share is the percentage watching a program among those televisions on at the time.
* Outfielders Chris Gwynn, 31, and Mitch Webster, 36, have become free agents after rejecting reassignment from the Dodgers to triple-A Albuquerque of the Pacific Coast League, the Dodgers announced.
Gwynn, who played in 67 games this season, batted .214 with one home run and 10 runs batted in. He was .333 with a homer and seven RBIs as a pinch-hitter.
Webster batted .179 with one home run and three RBIs in 54 games.