Saying he wanted to close this unhappy chapter of his life, Baltimore Orioles outfielder Lee Lacy announced today that he would accept his punishment from Commissioner Peter Ueberroth.
Lacy, one of 11 baseball players threatened with suspensions because of alleged drug use, must pay 5 percent of his 1986 salary to a Baltimore area drug rehabilitation program, do 50 hours of community service work and agree to submit to spot testing for drugs for the remainder of his career to avert a 60-day suspension.
Lacy's base salary in 1986 is $685,000, so his payment will be $34,250.
"From a personal standpoint, I'm glad it's behind me," Lacy said. "I'm looking forward to helping the Orioles win a pennant."
Lacy said he already was doing community service work and was going to agree to drug testing as part of a program recommended by his agent, Tom Reich.
Reich represents four of the 11 players named as former drug users by Ueberroth Friday. Reich said he had asked his 90 clients to agree to the drug-testing program Ueberroth proposed last summer.
Lacy said the work and tests were fine. The money was another matter.
"Any time someone says they're going to take some of your money, it hurts," he said. "It's over with now. It's a steep price for anyone to have to pay. I was doing the community service. I'd been doing some appearances for the California Youth Authority."
He said he didn't like drug tests because "there's going to be a time when I don't want to be bothered. It's a frame of mind you have to put yourself in, but I think most players are for testing, anyway."
Among the 11 players, Lacy is one of three who have said they will not fight Ueberroth's decision. The others are Dale Berra of the New York Yankees and Enos Cabell of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Dave Parker of the Cincinnati Reds, who also is represented by Reich, is expected to go along, although his fine is $120,000. Today in Tampa, Fla., Parker listed his options as "complying, not complying, playing in Japan, who knows?"
New York Mets first baseman Keith Hernandez, whose fine is $180,000, is the only player who has said he wants a grievance filed over the ruling.
Several other players have said they are unhappy with the severity of the punishment, but most have at least hinted they'll accept it.
"Do I think this is fair?" Lacy asked. "He [Ueberroth] is probably looking at the situation a lot differently than we were. We look at it like it's been in the papers for a year and a half. We've been embarrassed and humiliated, and so have our families. I didn't know what to expect. I knew it was going to be stiff."
Reich said there might be legal grounds for fighting the ruling, but that there were other priorities to consider.
"A lot of issues make good legal issues," he said. "But a lot of other issues may override those. A lot of careers have been hurt. This has been a horrible chapter in baseball history, and we all want to get it behind us."
Reich has hired former major league pitcher Dock Ellis to oversee the drug testing program for his clients. Under the plan, players not only undergo spot testing for drugs, but do community-service work and have access to rehabilitation clinics if they get into drug trouble.
Drug testing has been moving forward on other fronts as well. Most players signing 1986 contracts agreed to drug-testing clauses, and some, including Kansas City pitcher Bret Saberhagen, asked for one.
Yet although many players are publicly supporting testing programs, the leadership of the Major League Baseball Players Association has not, which has created a different kind of tension.
"I don't know how much longer the union hopes to keep its players in line," a prominent American League player said Saturday. "They've got to come forward with something."
The union did propose a program last December, but it consists of a public-awareness program instead of testing.
"It's not a program if it doesn't have testing," Orioles General Manager Hank Peters said.
The issue may come to a head this week when Players Association executive director Donald Fehr and his assistant, Mark Belanger, begin a tour of several Florida spring training camps.
Ueberroth's investigation of the players began after two drug trials in Pittsburgh last summer in which baseball players were prominently mentioned as users.
Lacy's .332 batting average was the fourth-best in the American League on July 20, which was the same month the Pittsburgh testimony became front-page news in many sports sections. Lacy, who said he had other things on his mind, hit only .250 the rest of the season and finished at .293, his lowest average in four years.
Third baseman/catcher Floyd Rayford said the medication on his left wrist has relieved the pain so much that he no longer thinks he will need surgery to remove a bone chip.