NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Doc Gooden is clearly bitter about the comments his former teammate, Darryl Strawberry, made about him last week.
Four days after Gooden backed out of WFAN event and Strawberry said he feared for the former Cy Young Award winner’s life, Gooden told another radio station he was rethinking his friendship with Strawberry.
“The Darryl thing hurt me a lot because I had just thought we re-established our relationship,” Gooden told WNYM’s Joe Piscopo on Monday morning. “I forgave him for a lot of stuff. I never threw him under the bus, never said anything about him publicly. For him to say that stuff, you have to draw a line somewhere and I guess do a better choice of picking friends.”
In an interview with the New York Post, Gooden added: “Unfortunately I have to forgive him, but I don’t have to deal with him. So the relationship between Doc and Darryl is completely over.”
Concerns for Gooden’s well-being became news again last week after he and Strawberry, teammates on world championship teams with the Mets and Yankees, were scheduled to participate in an interview in front of a studio audience with WFAN’s Joe Benigno, but Gooden was scratched from the appearance at the last minute.
Answering a question from an audience member, Strawberry expressed deep concern for Gooden, saying he was fearful that the onetime star pitcher was again wrestling with the types of issues that took a toll on his promising playing career.
“It’s really, really, really tough to sit here and just know that he was supposed to be here, too, and he’s not here. It’s really tough. And I think a lot of times people just keep thinking it’s all right, and it’s not all right,” a clearly emotional Strawberry told Benigno. “My fear is that — and I know addiction — and my fear is people that don’t change, they die. They die this way. I just hope the light comes on soon before it’s too late.”
Two days later, Strawberry defended voicing his concerns publicly, telling the New York Daily News, “I have to try something before he’s dead” and saying that Gooden has a cocaine problem.
“He’s a complete junkie-addict,” Strawberry told the newspaper. “I’ve been trying behind the scenes to talk to him and get him to go for help, but he won’t listen.
Gooden, however, insisted Monday he’s fine.
“Everything’s good,” he told WNYM. “I am healthy. I don’t have a drug problem. I mean, I am an addict … that don’t mean I’m an active addict.”
Gooden’s son, Dwight Gooden Jr., released a statement Sunday night that attempted to shed some light on Doc’s current situation.
“On behalf of myself and my brothers and sisters we would like to thank Darryl (Strawberry), Janice (Roots), members of the media, friends and most of all, the fans for their concern for our father’s health,” Gooden Jr. said. “His problems have been well documented and publicized through the years. At this time our only concern is his health and that he takes care of himself. There has not been a single day that our love for him or his love for us has ever wavered. One thing that has always been constant has been our father’s determination to provide for us regardless of what was going on in his life. He has always provided for us and has always been there for us.”
Gooden Jr. went on to say that a recent death in the family has taken a toll on his father.
“This has been a very hard year for our entire family. With our grandmother’s diminishing health and her passing last month, the stress and sadness that this brought us has been unthinkable,” he said. “She was the leader of our family and things will never be the same without her. Between this and our father’s work schedule he has been under an extraordinary amount of stress, pressure and above all sadness. He has been planning on taking a break from the spotlight to rest and regroup and address his health. We will be pushing this respite up. We, as a family, are currently planning his best course of action and thank you all for your concern, messages and prayers.”
Doc Gooden has battled drug addiction since his playing days, an issue that eventually landed him in prison for seven months in 2006. He has said in recent interviews that he still battles the urges associated with addiction.
Gooden’s ex-girlfriend, Janice Roots, wrote an open letter to Gooden that ran in Monday’s Daily News.
“Your son has called me any number of times asking me to ‘please help my dad. … He needs SOMEBODY right now,'” she wrote, in part.
“You have broken your family into a million jagged-edged pieces. When will you stop blaming people for your abominable addiction behaviors? You look like an addict. You talk like an addict.”
Both Gooden and Strawberry attended the Yankees’ celebration of the 1996 World Series championship team on Aug. 13 in the Bronx, and the pair was featured in a recent ESPN “30 For 30” documentary.
CBS2’s Otis Livingston spoke to Dr. Harris B. Straytner, vice president of Caron Treatment Centers, who said there are certain defense mechanisms for people with addictions.
“No matter what, the defense mechanism of projection — Doc Gooden was projecting a reaction that he was having onto Darryl Strawberry,” he said.
“Even if he’s not using, what’s going on with him? He’s had a rough year. That leads to stress. Stress can lead to relapse. And this is a chronic disease.”
But Straytner said he thinks the two baseball legends will eventually reconnect.
“They have too much in common not to. They understand what each one goes through, and as a result, that’s a bonding mechanism.”