Rickey Henderson has denied a news article in which he allegedly charged the New York Yankees with racial bias.
At the same time, he reiterated he wants to re-sign with New York after his contract expires at the end of the season.Henderson was quoted Friday by a New York newspaper as saying he believed his treatment by the team during a lengthy recuperation from a hamstring tear in 1987 was harsher because he was black.
"Black and white? I ain't got nothing to say about black and white," an angry Henderson said Friday afternoon after being shown the article.
"The question I was asked was about hamstring pulls, all the hamstring pulls last year. I didn't say nothing about racism. I don't have anything against the team. It's just a bunch of bull."
Henderson said he was aware that Yankees owner George Steinbrenner was initially upset at the published comments. "Maybe I would have been upset, too," Henderson said.
Steinbrenner later refused to comment on the issue; Yankees officials indicated that Henderson's denial satisfied Steinbrenner that no charge of racism had been made.
The brief flare of controversy marked the second time in spring training that statements attributed to Henderson made headlines.
In February, Henderson blamed excessive drinking by Yankees players for the team's fifth-place finish last season. Henderson did not back off from those allegations, although he said most of the players he referred to as boozers are no longer with the team.
In denying the latest allegations, Henderson said he had absolutely no problem with the way the team treats him and criticized the newspaper article for making an issue of the hamstring injury because it occurred three years ago.
Henderson also pointed out that his agent, Richie Bry, and the Yankees were conducting talks concerning a new contract.
Henderson is in the final year of a five-year contract and will be eligible for free agency at the end of the season.
"If I didn't want to be here, why would I negotiate with them?" Henderson, a left fielder, asked. "And if I wanted to bad-mouth them, why would I want to be here?"
Yankees Manager Dallas Green refused to involve himself in the commotion, just as he did with the alcohol charges. Green said it was up to Henderson to solve his problems with the media.
"We're all new to the surroundings," Green said of his coaching staff. "But from what I've seen of Rickey Henderson, he's an outstanding baseball player. Isn't that all that matters?"