New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner criticized his three All-Star players in a move outfielder Dave Winfield said Tuesday is designed to create publicity.
Steinbrenner accused Winfield, Don Mattingly and Rickey Henderson of selfishness and questioned their ability to win, it was reported Tuesday in New York newspapers."It doesn't belong here," said Winfield, the starting right fielder in Tuesday night's All-Star Game. "All you reporters here know it's just a ploy. It's disinformation. It's stupid. It has no place at this game."
Winfield has been Steinbrenner's main target for several seasons. Their relationship worsened this year when the outfielder disparaged the owner in his autobiography.
In Steinbrenner's most recent attack, he said Winfield has been spending too much time promoting the book. Winfield is batting .346 with 15 homers and 62 RBI.
"Going out to promote the book is no different than doing lunch with friends," Winfield said.
Steinbrenner fired Billy Martin and rehired Lou Piniella as manager last month when his team fell from first place. He was quoted in the Daily News as saying the Yankees have players who "put fannies in the seats but that doesn't put pennants on the flagpole."
The Yankees trail the Detroit Tigers by three games in the American League East.
"People want to blame guys on the bench, but don't blame them," Steinbrenner told Newsday. "It's the guys making big money that have to produce."
Steinbrenner criticized Henderson and Mattingly for playing in the All-Star Game rather than recovering from injuries. He called Mattingly "the most unproductive .300 hitter in baseball."
"I'm upset, but sometimes it's better to keep your opinions to yourself," said Mattingly, who despite a .310 average is disappointed in his season. "It does get tiring sometimes. But if I get too tired of it and don't enjoy playing (in New York) anymore, hopefully another club will take a chance with me and we'll go from there."
Henderson has played in 66 of his team's 85 games, suffering from assorted leg injuries. He is hitting .309 with 42 stolen bases, tops in the AL. He was asked if Steinbrenner's remarks were made to generate attention.
"Lots of times I think so," he said. "But he also tries to motivate us. He feels it helps. We have to motivate ourselves. If I don't get hurt none of this happens. I can play with the best when I'm not hurt."
Winfield said the three Yankee All-Stars are unifed in this case concerning their thinking about Steinbrenner.
"Anything he says, if you take it apart at any point, it will probably be wrong," Winfield said.