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Hernandez Will Pay Drug Penalty but Still Says It's Excessive

March 09, 1986

Keith Hernandez of the New York Mets Saturday accepted Commissioner Peter Ueberroth's punishment for cocaine involvement in order to play this year but insisted he was being excessively penalized, because he never dealt in drugs.

Hernandez, who last week said he would fight a one-year suspension imposed by the commissioner, was the last of the seven most heavily penalized players to accept the conditions set by Ueberroth for holding the suspensions in abeyance.

Joaquin Andujar of Oakland, Dave Parker of Cincinnati, Jeff Leonard of San Francisco, Lonnie Smith of Kansas City, Enos Cabell of the Dodgers and Dale Berra of the New York Yankees previously agreed to Ueberroth's conditions. Under the agreement, they will contribute 10% of their 1986 salaries to drug rehabilitation programs, devote 100 hours in each of the next two years to drug-related community service and accept random drug testing for the rest of their baseball careers.

In Hernandez's case, it will cost him $135,000 in contributions to drug rehabilitation programs. His 1986 salary is $1.35 million.

"My reaction to the commissioner's decision," Hernandez said, reading a statement, "is that I have been incorrectly categorized as one who facilitated cocaine use. The facts, I feel, do not justify this position. I admitted I used cocaine, but I never dealt in it or sold it. The only person I hurt was myself."

He suggested he belonged in a group with four other players--Claudell Washington of Atlanta, Lee Lacy of Baltimore, Lary Sorensen of the Chicago Cubs and Al Holland of the Yankees--who the commissioner said used drugs but didn't facilitate their use.

The four were suspended for 60 days but were told by Ueberroth that they could play this year if they donated 5% of their 1986 salaries to drug facilities, performed 50 hours of community service for one year and submitted to random testing. Lacy and Holland acceded. Washington and Sorensen have not said what they will do.

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