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Boggs and Duncan want out; Rogers happy to be back

July 11, 1997

NEW YORK (AP) _ On the night of Hideki Irabu’s arrival, Wade Boggs and Mariano Duncan again asked for their departures.

``I want to be out of here so bad, I’ll do anything I can to get out of here,″ Duncan said Thursday before Irabu beat Detroit 10-3. ``Please, please let me go.″

Boggs, unhappy Charlie Hayes has taken over as the starter at third base, also wants out.

``Like Johnnie Cochran said, if you don’t fit, you got to get rid,″ Boggs said, referring to O.J. Simpson’s lawyer.

As the second half of the season began, Duncan and Kenny Rogers returned to the Yankees, the team they left last Friday night when they were traded to San Diego in a deal centered around Greg Vaughn. But the trade was voided the following day when the outfielder flunked the Yankees’ physical.

Yankees owner George Steinbrenner closed his team’s clubhouse to reporters just hours before Irabu was to make his major league debut. He then made sure any player reporters wanted to speak with was brought to an interview room, giving Duncan, Boggs and Rogers a forum to explain their feelings.

Duncan, whose defense displeased Steinbrenner, did not start for 17 straight games from May 30 to mid-June, then played three straight games. He has not been in a game since June 25.

``They don’t ever play me. They don’t trade me. They don’t give me my release. What am I doing here?″ said Duncan, who wanted to stay home but was persuaded to return to the Bronx by his agent.

``If he’s a piece of garbage, let the piece of garbage go away,″ he said, referring to himself.

Rogers, demoted to the bullpen, thought another trade had been worked out when Steinbrenner had him summoned to the interview room.

``I’ve been coming and going since I’ve been here,″ he said. ``Being in limbo _ I’m getting used to it.″

AL president Gene Budig came to Yankee Stadium from his office in Manhattan when baseball officials learned Steinbrenner had unilaterally changes the rules on clubhouse access. In a bizarre scene, Steinbrenner stood near Budig outside the Yankees clubhouse, each explaining the situation while not talking directly to one another.

Baseball’s rules state the clubhouses are open from 3 1/2 hours before the game until 45 minutes before the first pitch.

``It isn’t the rule here ... Maybe they’ll suspend me. I don’t know,″ Steinbrenner said. ``The American League office probably is a little concerned about the lack of ratings for the All-Star game and they’re a little uptight.″

Steinbrenner, standing less than 10 feet from a poster adjacent to the clubhouse entrance outlining baseball’s policies, claimed he didn’t know anything about them.

``I would prefer that people be in here, as the policy is stated,″ Budig, a former journalism professor at Kansas University, said as he pointed to the clubhouse. ``And after, we will talk to the Yankees.″

Acting commissioner Bud Selig declined comment, but a high-ranking baseball official, speaking on the condition he not be identified, said Selig intended to investigate and that disciplinary action was possible. NBA commissioner David Stern fined the Chicago Bulls $25,000 on May 8 and $50,000 on May 22 for not following the league’s rules on media availability

Steinbrenner originally closed the clubhouse Thursday to all but the Yankees’ traveling writers and one columnist from each New York newspaper. AL vice president Phyllis Merhige told the Yankees they could not have the clubhouse open to some and closed to others.

After a telephone conversation among Steinbrenner, Budig and Selig, who was in Milwaukee, the Yankees owner said he would personally bring any players wanted by reporters to an interview room.

``If it violated policy, I apologize for that,″ Steinbrenner said, ``but it’s one of those things in life.″

Steinbrenner claimed the Yankees clubhouse couldn’t accommodate all the reporters on hand for Irabu’s debut _ about 300. However, about 400 clubhouse credentials were issued for World Series games at Yankee Stadium last October.

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