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Yankees throw book at Wells: $100,000 fine

Published Aug. 31, 2005

The Yankees threw the book back at David Wells.

The pitcher was fined $100,000 Monday for an autobiography filled with revelations of drinking, drug use and disparaging talk that the Yankees felt tarnished their image.

"I'm glad it's over," Wells said after a spring training appearance against Cleveland in Winter Haven. "I've got to move on and go out there and pitch."

The 39-year-old left-hander, often prone to outlandish statements during a major-league career that began in 1987, did not elaborate much but issued a statement apologizing to owner George Steinbrenner, team employees, baseball and teammates.

"Anyone who knows me knows my love for the history of baseball, and in particular the history and traditions of its most famous franchise, the New York Yankees," Wells said. "I never intended to offend anyone, or compromise my relationships with teammates or fans, and I deeply regret that I may have done so."

After reading the book, general manager Brian Cashman concluded discipline was in order because "some of those things in the book did tarnish the Yankee image."

"The image of the Yankees is something we, and I personally, am intending to protect on a daily basis," Cashman said.

After a weekend of negotiations, Wells agreed not to contest the fine. The Yankees originally proposed that Wells be fined 10 days' pay of his $3-million salary, which comes to nearly $165,000, but Wells' agent, Gregg Clifton, objected.

The team wanted a fine with six figures, among the highest ever for a player, but lower than the penalties imposed on Keith Hernandez, Dave Parker and Joaquin Andujar, who agreed to give up 10 percent of their 1987 salaries after the Pittsburgh drug trials.

The money will be split equally among three charities chosen by the team: the Boys and Girls Clubs of New York, the Baseball Assistance Team and the Special Operations Warrior Foundation.

"I don't think anybody familiar with the landscape thinks this penalty would be upheld," said Gene Orza, the union's No. 2 official. "But it's his decision to make under the rules and it reflects the degree he wants to put this behind him. We have absolutely no problem with his decision."

Commissioner Bud Selig said he intends to meet with Wells to discuss the book but will not impose any additional discipline.

Wells backpedaled Monday on some of the more outrageous passages in the book, saying now he wasn't "half-drunk" when he pitched a perfect game against Minnesota in 1998.

"When I took the mound the day of my perfect game, I was ready to pitch. I certainly wasn't drunk," he said.

"Anyone who knows me understands that I only intended to write this book in the spirit of fun. I am sorry that the book hasn't been taken in that vein."

The pitcher was hit hard in his first two exhibition starts, causing the team to wonder whether he was preoccupied by reaction to the book. Even though he sprained an ankle last week, Wells had a much better outing Monday, allowing one run and six hits in four innings of relief.

Copies of Wells' book, Perfect I'm Not! Boomer on Beer, Brawls, Backaches & Baseball, began arriving in New York area bookstores Friday. Wells discussed steroid and amphetamine use in the majors and made unfavorable statements about some teammates.

In the final version of the book, Wells lowered his estimate of steroid use among major-leaguers from 25-40 percent to 10-25 percent and eliminated a claim that some players use Ritalin as a stimulant.

He also changed a reference to former teammate Kenny Rogers from "cuckoo-bird pitcher" to "whipping boy/pitcher."