<
>

Noah Syndergaard: My mistake

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Tuesday's food fight in the New York Mets' spring training clubhouse has been cleaned up.

Top prospect Noah Syndergaard accepted responsibility for being in the clubhouse during Tuesday's intrasquad game in violation of protocol, while captain David Wright apologized for confronting him in the presence of media.

Syndergaard had been eating lunch in the clubhouse when Wright completed his work in the intrasquad game and entered the room. Upon spotting the 22-year-old pitching prospect, Wright advised Syndergaard that he should be in the dugout learning from other pitchers, even though the right-hander was not scheduled to throw in the game.

Closer Bobby Parnell proceeded to dump Syndergaard's lunch in the trash.

"It was just really a mistake on my part," Syndergaard said Wednesday morning. "It was straight-up ignorance on my part, just thinking I can go in there during a game and grab a quick bite to eat. It's just a learning experience for me. I should have been on the bench."

Syndergaard said he and Wright subsequently spoke twice about the incident "to clear things up a little bit" later that day and again Wednesday morning.

New York tabloids seized on the exchange with back-page headlines that blared "Chewed Out," "Pitch Slapped" and "Food Fight."

"It was straight-up ignorance on my part, just thinking I can go in there during a game and grab a quick bite to eat. It's just a learning experience for me. I should have been on the bench."

Noah Syndergaard

"He didn't want me to think that him and Bobby were picking on me," Syndergaard said about the subsequent conversations with Wright. "He just wanted to make it clear that they care about me. They want me to be a part of the team because they think I can contribute to the future. I didn't think they were picking on me."

Wright called it a "nonissue."

"It's the way that we kind of get on each other, that some people don't get or understand," Wright said. "But I've got three younger brothers. It's the way that I get on them. That's what it's like in here. You have some older brothers. You have some younger brothers. You see something that maybe helps them or helps the team, you get on them.

"You wouldn't do it to somebody that we didn't think could take it or we didn't think was one of us. I like Noah."

Parnell said Wednesday it was "a clubhouse issue that needed to be handled."

"We are trying to create a winning culture around here and that what's the whole situation was about," he said.

Syndergaard said his midafternoon lunch break was permissible because it wasn't like "me being in there with my feet up watching TV."

He said Parnell clearly was not being mean-spirited when he dumped the plate in the trash.

"He did it with a smile on his face, so I didn't feel like he was being malicious about it," Syndergaard said.

Wright said his one regret was that the whole thing became public.

"I didn't notice that the media was within earshot," Wright said. "So that's what I apologized to Noah for, is now he has to answer questions, I have to answer questions, [manager] Terry [Collins] has to answer questions. And that's not the way I like to handle things. I wasn't aware of my surroundings."

Parnell agreed.

"Yeah, we try to keep those things behind closed doors, but the media was there and saw it," said the reliever, who added that he's spoken with Syndergaard since, calling it "all good."

"But it wasn't about embarrassing anyone. Again, it goes back to creating that culture on and off the field."