Bonilla, Writer Turn Up Heat In Met Clubhouse
NEW YORK - It didn't take long for the peace and quiet in the New York Met clubhouse to end this season.
Bobby Bonilla, a favorite target of the fans and media in 1992, exchanged heated words with New York Daily News sportswriter Bob Klapisch after the Mets lost to Houston 6-3 yesterday.
Some of the Mets are angry over a book about the club written by Klapisch and John Harper. Both were beat writers with the team until this season.
The book, "The Worst Team Money Could Buy," chronicles many off-field episodes from the past few seasons and criticizes Manager Jeff Torborg for the way he handled the team last year. With a payroll of $44 million last season, New York finished fifth in the NL East at 72-90.
"I will hurt you," Bonilla told Klapisch. "I will show you the Bronx."
Bonilla and Klapisch then had to be separated by Met public-relations director Jay Horwitz. Some witnesses also reported that Bonilla told Klapisch "this isn't over."
"It was as close as I've come to having a fight with a player," Klapisch said. "I was doing an interview with Doc Gooden when he started threatening me."
Torborg had no comment on the incident, and Bonilla left the clubhouse after the altercation.
Klapisch said he also had words with first baseman Eddie Murray in the clubhouse before the game.
"There was a little back and forth and he told me to get out," Klapisch said. "I'm not going to be chased out of that clubhouse. I won't be intimidated by Bobby Bonilla.
"We did not write the book to embarrass anyone personally. Bonilla wasn't a target," he said.
The Mets made a big deal about team unity in spring training this year after a season of controversy on and off the field.
Bonilla, who signed a big contract as a free agent before the 1992 season, had a poor year and batted only .214 at home.
-- PITTSBURGH KEEPS ONE: The Pittsburgh Pirates finally stopped their exodus of high-priced players by signing shortstop Jay Bell to a new contract that will pay him $20.1 million through the 1997 season.
Bell, who led major-league shortstops with 51 extra-base hits last season, will make $3 million in 1994, $4.2 million in 1995, $4.5 million in 1996 and $4.8 million in 1997 under the four-year extension. The contract also includes a $1 million signing bonus.
"I probably took less to sign than I could have made (as a free agent) next year, but the important thing for me was to stay in Pittsburgh," Bell said yesterday.
Bell is the first Pirate player to sign an expensive multiyear contract since Andy Van Slyke agreed to a three-year, $12.6 million extension in 1991. With Van Slyke's contract expiring after the 1994 season, Bell is the only Pirate player signed past next season.
Bell's signing reverses a two-year trend that has seen the Pirates lose the core of their three division championship teams to free agency, including two-time MVP Barry Bonds, Bobby Bonilla and former 20-game winners Doug Drabek and John Smiley. Those four are now signed to contracts worth more than $93 million.
Bell, 27, has been the Pirates' regular shortstop since the Cleveland Indians traded him for shortstop Felix Fermin on March 25, 1989. Bell has missed only 12 games the last four seasons and had his best year in 1991, when he hit .270 with 16 homers and 67 RBI.
-- SCHOTT GETS REPRIEVE: Owner Marge Schott's videotape message to Cincinnati Reds fans on Opening Day nearly got her and the club in trouble.
But the Reds assured baseball's executive council that it won't happen again, and the incident will not affect the terms of her suspension.
Schott, banned from baseball for using slurs against blacks, Jews and Asians, appeared in a 15-second videotape showed to fans on the Riverfront Stadium scoreboard to wish the fans luck.
Under terms of her suspension, Schott cannot be involved in the day-to-day operation of the team until Nov. 1. The executive council placed Schott on probation until Feb. 28, 1994.
The Reds videotaped Schott's message before her suspension took effect March 1, The Cincinnati Enquirer reported.
-- NOTEWORTHY: The Cincinnati Reds promoted reliever Bill Landrum from Class AAA Indianapolis and sent first baseman Tim Costo to the farm team. Also, first baseman Hal Morris was transferred from the 15-day disabled list to the 60-day DL because of a shoulder separation, operated on Friday. . . . Detroit Tiger Manager Sparky Anderson entered last night's game against California needing only three wins to become the seventh major-league manager to reach the 2,000-win mark.
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