As Commissioner Peter Ueberroth's action against 11 baseball players suspected of drug use continued to draw mixed reviews today, New York Mets first baseman Keith Hernandez said he wanted the Major League Baseball Players Association to file a grievance on behalf of the players.
Hernandez and six other players have been ordered to donate 10 percent of their salaries to drug charities, to perform community service and to submit to random drug tests to avert a year-long suspension. The other four players must donate five percent of their salaries, perform community service and submit to random drug tests in order to avert a 60-day suspension.
"Obviously, I am not pleased with the decision of the commissioner," said Hernandez, who appeared briefly at a Mets workout in St. Petersburg, Fla. His fine would be $180,000, or 10 percent of his salary of $1.8 million. "When a decision is made by the arbitrator, I will make my decision on what to do."
But a source familiar with the case said, "Hernandez wants a grievance filed. I don't think there's been a decision on that."
Asked what the grounds for Hernandez's grievance might be, Mets General Manager Frank Cashen said he wasn't sure but added that Hernandez "is a very private person. He might find community service difficult."
Donald Fehr, the Players Association executive director, also said that no decision had been made on filing a grievance.
"I don't know yet what we will do and won't know for several days at the earliest," Fehr told the Associated Press. "On Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, we'll be discussing the situation with the players and their agents and asking for additional information from the commissioner."
Ueberroth said Friday that more than 300 major league players already have drug-testing clauses in their contracts and that the number is "pushing 400."
Today, several people in baseball circles pressed for all players to be involved in a testing program, and many were critical of the Players Association for blocking one. Fehr opposes drug testing for players.
"There will be no rest until there's a uniform drug-testing program," said Tom Reich, a Pittsburgh-based sports attorney who represents four players named Friday by Ueberroth as former users.
Reich said he has asked his 90 clients to volunteer for the testing program proposed by Ueberroth last summer. That plan includes a program of community service, testing and rehabilitation for players in need of it.
"The fact is, I believe this kind of program is imperative," Reich said.
Toronto Blue Jays General Manager Pat Gillick said, "My gut feeling is that the players union isn't listening to its constituents. It's one thing to tell a client about the legal pratfalls of something, but ultimately, it's the client's decision. I thought the union would come forward with a plan before this time."
Cincinnati Reds outfielder Dave Parker also was upset with Ueberroth's decision. With his 1986 base salary of $1.2 million, Parker's penalty would be $120,000.
"I have never heard of a fine levied that large anywhere in any industry," he told the Pittsburgh Press. "And there are people who have committed far more serious crimes. I have no problem doing community work. I was doing that long before this went into court. And I have agreed to do the drug testing.
"But I've never heard of a fine levied for as much as that. . . . Ten percent of my salary could feed a lot of mouths. Basically, 10 percent of my salary sounds unrealistic."
Ueberroth named 21 players and divided them into three categories, ranging from serious users and possible "facilitators," to players such as Baltimore Orioles second baseman Alan Wiggins, who was treated under baseball's Joint Drug Agreement, which was terminated by the owners last fall.
The seven players in the first group, who Ueberroth said used and facilitated distribution of drugs, include Hernandez, Parker, Joaquin Andujar of the Oakland A's, Dale Berra of the New York Yankees, Enos Cabell of the Los Angeles Dodgers, Jeff Leonard of the San Francisco Giants and Lonnie Smith of the Kansas City Royals.
These players will be suspended for one year if they don't agree to three conditions: to do 200 hours of community service, to pay 10 percent of their 1986 base salaries to a drug-prevention program and to undergo spot drug tests for the rest of their careers.
Four other players, including Lee Lacy of the Orioles, were placed in the second category because, Ueberroth said, they used drugs but did not facilitate their distribution. They must do 50 hours of community service, give five percent of their 1986 base salaries to drug-prevention programs and undergo testing for the rest of their careers or face suspension.
Players in the third category, including Wiggins, must only agree to undergo testing for the rest of their careers.
Orioles player representative Scott McGregor said he wondered if Ueberroth's action was punishment enough.
"I agree there ought to be a form of punishment," McGregor said. "Whether it's stern enough, who knows? . . . Ten percent is a writeoff. We already know that. Testing? Players will do that in a second to keep playing."
McGregor has been outspoken in his support of drug testing and emphasized that again today.
"We've talked and disagreed on the validity of the tests," he said. "But when it comes down to it, what else can you do? Have police dogs in the clubhouse? It's a massive problem, and with all of this, LaMarr Hoyt of the San Diego Padres checked into a clinic yesterday. I wish we could do just one thing to solve the problem, but we can't."
Wiggins said, "Testing is good if you want to find out if someone has a problem. Is that the answer? I don't know. Is what Ueberroth did the answer? I don't know."
The Orioles announced their own program of testing in January, and sources said the Oakland A's are almost finished putting together a similar one. In Mesa, Ariz., Chicago Cubs player representative Keith Moreland said he was calling a team meeting next week to recommend establishing a testing program similar to the Orioles'.