In one 30-minute conversation today, the mood of Baltimore Orioles outfielder Lee Lacy swung from angry to playful to bitter.
But like the swing that has produced four .300 seasons in the last six, his temper is quick to come and quick to go.
Ten days after Commissioner Peter Ueberroth slapped him with a $34,250 fine, 50 hours of community service and random drug tests for the remainder of his career, Lacy agreed to talk about his feelings for the first time.
He appeared restless and a little angry that he was again having to replay the subject. But nonetheless, he sat in the Orioles' dugout and answered every question, an hour before today's exhibition game with the Atlanta Braves was rained out.
He is one of 11 players whom Ueberroth penalized with fines, work and drug tests because they were implicated in last summer's Pittsburgh drug trials. Lacy said last week he would pay the required 5 percent of his $685,000 salary to a Baltimore area drug-prevention program (as ordered by Ueberroth), but he is not happy about it.
He says he believes the fine is unfair because an example already has been made of him by having his name on the nightly news for 10 months and by the damage done to his reputation, which may forever be connected to baseball's biggest drug scandal.
"I'm no criminal," he said quietly.
Let Dale Berra of the New York Yankees say Ueberroth was doing what was best for baseball. Lacy will not.
"By the time the commissioner made his final decision, we'd been made a mockery of," he said. "It had just gotten to the point of being funny, and now it doesn't seem like it'll end."
Lacy did not deny that he had used cocaine in the past or that he used cocaine while playing for the Pittsburgh Pirates.
What he does object to is the intimation that the Pirates' clubhouse was a hornet's nest of addicts and that baseball's drug problem was centered there.
"That was so long ago," he said. "That was 1980 and '81. I know in '82 and '83, there were guys on other teams with more serious problems. It was just that Pittsburgh got all the media attention. I don't want to get into which clubs I'm talking about, but a lot of people know what I'm saying is true."
A year ago, he was beginning what were supposed to be the best years of his career. After being a platoon or part-time player for 10 of his first 11 seasons, he was coming off a .321 season in Pittsburgh and had been given a four-year, $2.2 million contract to sign with the Orioles.
He wanted baseball to know that it had misjudged him as a player, and he was going to get a chance to prove it. Two weeks into spring training, though, he tore ligaments on his right thumb and underwent surgery.
He wasn't activated until May 13, and after he hit .188 in his first 11 games, the Orioles saw a glimpse of the Lacy they'd hoped to see as he hit safely in 42 of the next 47 games at a .356 clip.
At 36, he was proving everyone wrong.
"The thing is, my thumb was hurting all year," he said. "The people in Baltimore didn't see the true me."
But in July began the trials, which implicated dozens of major league players, and Lacy's bat went south. Saying at the time, "I have a lot of other things on my mind," he hit only .250 in the final 63 games, and with his thumb still bothering him, started only three of the Orioles' last 10 games.
"It got to the point where it was tough coming to the ballpark," Lacy said. "I didn't want to go out on the field, because people would be there yelling all kinds of things. You just get sick of hearing it after a while."
When the season ended, his average had dropped to .293, his lowest in five seasons.
Now, after a winter to rehabilitate his thumb, he said he would be fresh.
"It's a new start, and I'm excited about the kind of club we have," he said. "We've got guys like Eddie [Murray] and Cal [Ripken] who are going to hit some home runs and guys like me and Alan Wiggins who are going to get on base. I want to put all this other stuff behind me and get on with my career."
He begins spring training as the Orioles' No. 1 right fielder, but Manager Earl Weaver hasn't ruled out using him as a designated hitter some, too.
Lacy said that he would prefer to play the outfield but that if Weaver wanted him to DH, he would DH. "I want to go out and play," he said."
Outfielder Mike Young has a bruised right wrist and palm and won't swing a bat for at least four days. He was injured when he ran into the brick outfield wall at Miami Stadium on Sunday. Although X-rays showed no breaks, Young said the wrist was sore.
"They said there might be a small crack in there and that it would have time to heal by Thursday or Friday," he said. "If it's still sore, they'll X-ray it again. I'm not worried about it, because it doesn't feel that bad" . . .
Tippy Martinez completed two impressive innings Sunday and did it without throwing a single curve ball. "All fast balls and sliders," he said. "I feel like a kid with a new toy." Martinez has thrown only about a dozen sliders in the big leagues but now thinks it might extend his career . . .
Heavy rains swept through Miami in the bottom of the second inning today after the Orioles had taken a 1-0 lead on Fred Lynn's double and Floyd Rayford's single. Orioles starter Storm Davis allowed a hit and a walk in two innings, striking out the final two batters he faced.