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GOODEN SAYS HE’S SORRY, WILL RETURN BETTER, STRONGER

SHARE GOODEN SAYS HE’S SORRY, WILL RETURN BETTER, STRONGER

Dwight Gooden's once fabulous career with the New York Mets came to sudden stop - and possible end - with a 60-day suspension without pay by major league baseball for violation of his drug aftercare program.

Gooden, who missed a month of the 1987 season after testing positive for cocaine use and undergoing treatment, was suspended Tuesday after reportedly failing at least two random drug tests.The New York Times, citing a highly placed person in major league baseball, said today that Gooden failed two random drug tests and the New York Daily News, citing a source fimiliar with baseball's drug-testing program, said he failed at least two tests, the last administered within the past two weeks.

"I have been suspended for breaking the rules of my aftercare program. I'm truly sorry it happened," Gooden said in a statement read by Joe McIlvaine, Mets vice president for baseball operations.

"I want to apologize to the club, my teammates and to the people of New York. I want to thank everyone for their past support. I will be back stronger and better. I want to earn your respect back."

Gary Sheffield, Gooden's nephew who plays for the Florida Marlins, said it was not drugs and that Gooden missed a test.

Mets manager Dallas Green felt Gooden's family would suffer the most.

"Doc has fallen by the wayside by his own choice - put that into perspective," Green said after Tuesday night's game. "The organization is hurt. Baseball is hurt, because he's a big name. But his wife and kids have to be devastated. The kids are at an age where they understand what's going on. I feel compassion for the family."

Gooden, scheduled to earn $3.7 million this season in the final year of a three-year, $15.45 million contract, had recently returned from a toe injury. He's 3-4 with a 6.31 ERA in 41 1-3 innings and had the worst outing of his career last Friday night, allowing nine runs in 5 1-3 innings in a 9-4 loss to Pittsburgh.