Work in Sports
Henderson causing more distractions
Posted: Friday February 25, 2000 03:47 AM
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. (AP) -- Rickey Henderson says the Mets are trying to trade him. The team says it isn't.
What is clear is that the left fielder, who doesn't want to make the season-opening trip to Japan, is becoming a daily distraction this spring.
"I saw that Rickey was holding court again today," general manager Steve Phillips said Thursday.
Henderson arrived a day after other position players on the team, then said Tuesday and Wednesday that his role must change. Baseball's career stolen base leader, who had 438 at-bats last year, doesn't want to come out of games in the late innings for a defensive replacement.
"My stock answer is we're not shopping Rickey Henderson around," said Phillips, who met with Henderson on Thursday as practice was wiped out by thunderstorms.
"My agent told me they were trying to trade me," Henderson said.
Phillips said he hadn't spoken with the agent, Jeff Borris, since he'd been in Florida.
Manager Bobby Valentine said earlier this week that if Henderson wants to play in the late innings, he should work on his defense this spring.
"Defense is not one of the things I have a problem with," Henderson said. "I don't see anybody here who they have in the outfield who can outplay me in defense."
Phillips said that after his talk with Henderson, the outfielder and Valentine are scheduled to talk Friday. Valentine had said earlier in the week that Henderson should seek him out if he has complaints.
"If he's not going to walk into this office, then the old mountain will go to Mohammed," Valentine said.
Henderson also said he doesn't want to make the trip to the Tokyo Dome for the opening two-game series against the Chicago Cubs on March 29-30.
"I know he doesn't want to go but, he'll go," Phillips said.
Henderson thinks the Mets need him because of their offseason moves.
"I look around and don't see another leadoff hitter here. We already got rid of one leadoff hitter," Henderson said, referring to Roger Cedeno. "I really don't think I'm going anywhere."
Valentine agreed that there's nobody in camp like Henderson but said he has other leadoff options.
"I've had Brian Downing lead off for me and he was as good as I've ever had," Valentine said. "I think we're OK with the quality people we have, and these things have a way of working out."
While Henderson has been a daily topic, Phillips said he doesn't think it's disrupted the team.
"The distraction has been for Rickey, Bobby and myself," Phillips said.
Henderson, at 41 the senior player on the roster, also was concerned about other players becoming caught up with his issues.
"I don't want this to be a distraction," he said. "I'm too much of a veteran and I know I've got a job to do. I want to go out and do my job, I want to be better than I was last year."
Notes: A 31-year-old man was arrested Thursday for trespass after warning. Joseph DeBlasi, of Merrick, N.Y., was taken to jail by Port St. Lucie police on a misdemeanor charge after causing a disturbance at the camp for the second day, according to Officer Rod Dobler. DeBlasi arrived Wednesday and demanded a tryout. He told office officials that Bill Parcells had set it up for him. He became belligerent and threatened the staff, according to Dobler. Police responded and he was escorted off the premises and told not to return. He returned Thursday with glove in hand, wearing a red Rutgers shirt and demanded a tryout. This time he dropped the names of Henderson and Mike Piazza.