VERO BEACH, Fla. — Kirk Gibson was back in the Dodger fold Friday morning, still simmering over a prank pulled on him less than an hour before Thursday's spring training opener.
By Friday afternoon, newly acquire relief pitcher Jesse Orosco had admitted to having put black shoe polish on the inside of Gibson's cap, prompting the temperamental and temporarily smudged left fielder to storm off the field and miss the game.
Even after Orosco had apologized to Gibson, and Manager Tom Lasorda had held a long meeting with Gibson and a closed-door team meeting, Gibson did not seem totally placated.
"I did what I had to do to get my point across, and that's that," Gibson said.
He did not vow revenge, but neither would he say that he will forget the embarrassment of putting on his cap and getting the shoe polish on his forehead.
"Basically, I don't want to be a part of their fun and comedy act," said Gibson, who reportedly was fined for leaving Thursday's game. "I'm not a radical guy. I go by the rules. This other bull is foreign to me. I like to have a good time, but a good time to me is winning."
Orosco said he was sorry about the prank. He said he discovered that it is unwise to pull practical jokes on Gibson, who admits that he has no sense of humor when the joke is on him.
"Let's just say I won't be doing it again," Orosco said. "That's because I don't want to read my name in the obituaries.
"It was just a typical practical joke. Kirk and I talked, and I hope he understands. I felt bad after I did it, and I felt really bad after (Gibson's) reaction."
Perhaps of greater concern to Dodger management, however, was Gibson's leaving the field--and the Dodgertown complex--when he was scheduled to play. Lasorda and Fred Claire, the Dodgers' executive vice president, said they do not condone either the actions of Gibson or the clubhouse pranksters.
"It wasn't right, what (Gibson) did," Lasorda said. "But that's all been taken care of. Everything was covered in the team meeting."
After discovering what had been done to his cap Thursday, Gibson blew up and then told Lasorda he was leaving.
"I wasn't ready to play in the game after that," Gibson said. "Some race horses walk into the gate; others get all hyped up. Before game time, I get all hyped up and I don't have a sense of humor. That's obvious.
"I was (upset) and instead of doing something about it right then, if you know what I mean, I took off. I'm accountable for my actions."
Asked if he had given Gibson permission to leave, Lasorda said: "I told him that with the way he was feeling, it was best for him to go. He wasn't in a real good mood. Let's say that."
While still on the field, Gibson threatened whomever was responsible with serious reprisals. When he returned to the clubhouse, he reportedly said, "Send the guy who did it into the clubhouse, and then I'll play."
At his locker before Friday morning's meeting, Gibson tried to explain why he had reacted so angrily.
"Certain people are made up differently, and obviously, I don't pull pranks on other people because I don't like to be the guy they pull them on," he said. "I don't know why they did it to me. I don't think I'd do that to somebody who didn't know me. I don't know those guys. Maybe I've given them a false feeling."
Claire defended Gibson's reasons for leaving the game.
"It was an unfortunate thing that happened," Claire said. "You never embarrass a professional baseball player on the field. But it's one small footnote in terms of what the season is about."
Before going out to the field, Gibson had been the victim of another prank in the clubhouse. Someone put shaving cream on the receiver of a telephone, then told Gibson he had a call.
"That one was OK," Gibson said. "But on the field, people were laughing at me. I make enough mistakes on my own that I can have people laugh at me.
"Maybe I've done too much talking and that's why I had this . . . pulled on me. The best thing is to let it die. And if it doesn't, then we'll have another conflict. Everybody's different. If they don't respect that, then I guess I don't fit in. The last thing this ball club needs is BS like this."
Gibson previously had a minor run-in with Dodger shortstop Mariano Duncan, but Lasorda has repeatedly told reporters that the situation has been handled and that there is no lingering animosity. Lasorda also said that Gibson has fit in well with the Dodgers.
"On the whole, I think he's settled in fine," Lasorda said. "I think he likes it here and is happy here. That's my own observation. I don't think that Gibson has any hard feelings and that (the other players) don't have any hard feelings.
"I'm sure that the guy who did pull the pranks feels bad. He didn't think it would turn out the way it did."