Fernando Valenzuela, National League rookie of the year and Cy Young winner in 1981, announced today he will report to the Los Angeles Dodgers' spring training camp Tuesday but will not sign a contract.
Valenzuela said he would play under the agreement the club had renewed without his consent. "They have decided what the contract says," he said. "We have been treated like children.
"I am only 21, but I am a man to be considered with dignity."
The Dodgers unilaterally renewed Valenzuela's 1981 contract earlier this month under provisions of baseball's Basic Agreement. They gave him a raise the club said made him the highest-paid second-year player in baseball history. He reportedly will receive $350,000.
Valenzuela said he will report to the Dodgers' camp in Vero Beach, Fla., and begin working out, saying he felt an obligation to his teammates and his family. The Dodgers had said they would suspend Valenzuela if he did not show up by Tuesday.
Valenzuela earned $42,000 last year. This spring, he and his agent, Tony DeMarco, had held out for a reported $850,000 a year after first asking for $1 million.
"The Dodgers say if I report they will improve my contract," Valenzuela said at a news conference, at which he was accompanied by DeMarco and attorney Dick Moss.
"I do not want a reward for good behavior," Valenzuela said. "I will not sign a 1982 contract. This season I will play under the renewed 1981 contract."
Valenzuela said the Dodgers refused to negotiate over the last two weeks and said he looked forward to negotiating from a stronger stance next year when he's eligible for contract arbitration.
Asked if he would hold any bitterness toward the Dodgers, Valenzuela replied, "No, no. It is not going to make any difference toward the Dodgers because I am a professional."
Because of his second-year status, Valenzuela's only options were to play under the contract the Dodgers offered or get out of the major leagues.
"My representatives and I have never had any real negotiations with the Dodgers," Valenzuela said. "There have been meetings, but the only ideas have come from us. The Dodgers have rejected every new approach we or anyone else has suggested.
"They have made it clear that they alone will decide what my contract says, and if I do not accept that, they will stop me from playing baseball again," he said.
Valenzuela had been a holdout from camp since the rest of the team reported to spring training in Vero Beach, Fla., March 2.
"All of us in the Dodger organization appreciate the success Fernando enjoyed in 1981 and we are happy he is rejoining his teammates in preparation for the 1982 season," said Peter O'Malley, the team president.
"When we renewed Fernando's contract on March 1, we took into account his accomplishments of last year. The terms of the contract provided the largest salary for a second-year players in major league history.
"Now that Fernando will be back with his teammates, we can focus all of our efforts on repeating as world champions in 1982."
Team spokesman Steve Ross, who sent out the statement, was asked if the Dodgers might discuss a raise with Valenzuela to make him happy. "That hasn't been decided," he said.
Last season, which was shortened by the players' strike, Valenzuela won his first eight games and finished with a 13-7 record and a 2.48 earned run average. He led the major leagues in shutouts with eight and in strikeouts with 180.
Of the 30 regular season and postseason games in which he appeared, 16 were sellouts, many in ballparks with teams that rarely filled their stadiums.
Valenzuela played winter ball in Mexico and has been running and pitching in Los Angeles and Mexico during his 22-day holdout. He said he'd be ready to pitch nine innings on opening day April 6 if called upon by Dodger Manager Tom Lasorda.