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BASEBALL PLAYOFFS / AMERICAN LEAGUE | NEW YORK YANKEES
VS. TEXAS RANGERS REPORT : NOTES

Strawberry's 'Fears' Hit Home With Teammate Cone

October 02, 1998|MIKE DiGIOVANNA

Yankee pitcher David Cone has never had a cancer diagnosis, but he has a good idea of what teammate Darryl Strawberry is going through this week.

Cone's career was jeopardized in 1996 when doctors discovered an aneurysm in his right arm, and the right-hander missed four months of the season because of surgery.

Like Strawberry, Cone underwent numerous medical tests, and he eventually underwent surgery at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center in New York. Like Strawberry, there was a great fear of the unknown.

"When I went through my situation, I didn't understand what was happening to me," Cone said. "I needed to be educated. I didn't know if it was life or death, or if my career was over.

"I'm sure Darryl is having those fears as well. He doesn't know what's going on. He probably doesn't understand some of the medical jargon that's being thrown his way, and he's probably getting an education right now. It can be very confusing and very scary. Our hearts are really with him right now."

Strawberry has one benefit Cone didn't have: His longtime friend, Oriole outfielder Eric Davis, overcame colon cancer last year.

"Eric Davis beat it, and that's a key component in this scenario," Cone said. "Eric's strength will lend a guide for Darryl, and I think because of his early detection, he has an excellent chance for full recovery."

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The entire Yankee team gathered around ESPN baseball announcer Harold Reynolds after Thursday's workout to wish Strawberry well.

"We want to send a message to Darryl that we're all behind him, that he's going to pull through this," Yankee outfielder Tim Raines said. "I hope he was watching."

In a prepared statement, Yankee owner George Steinbrenner said: "I've always said that this is a good man of great character, and this has certainly proved that to be true. He is facing a serious crisis and his concern is for his teammates. . . . Our thoughts and our prayers are with Darryl, his wife, Charisse, and their young children."

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The Rangers, who led the league in batting during the regular season, are hitting .156 (10 for 64) with only one run and 19 strikeouts in the first two games of the series, both losses.

Texas Manager Johnny Oates, hinting that poor umpiring may have had something to do with the Rangers' struggles, was asked if his players needed to be more selective at the plate.

"I refuse to answer that on the grounds that it might incriminate me," he said. "Did you see the tape of Game 2? And it's going to be worse [tonight]. Don't get me wrong, it's that way for both teams. We took more called strikes Wednesday night than we have all year."

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Outfielder Ricky Ledee joined the Yankees on Thursday, but he won't be able to take Strawberry's roster spot unless New York advances to the American League championship series.

"It's sad," Ledee said. "I really want to be here, but not in the situation I'm in. It's difficult. It's not like a call-up from the minor leagues. When somebody gets sick like this, it's no fun."

Today's Pitchers

YANKEES' DAVID CONE (20-7, 3.55 ERA) vs. RANGERS' AARON SELE (19-11, 4.23 ERA)

Site: The Ballpark in Arlington, Texas

Time: 5 p.m. PDT TV--Channel 4

Update: Oates was asked if Sele will keep the Rangers in the game if he limits the Yankees to three runs tonight. "If we score three runs, he will," Oates said. "If we score one or less, I'll probably be sitting on the boat dock Monday morning." It took the Rangers 14 innings to advance a runner to third base in this series, and the heart of the Texas order-Rusty Greer, Juan Gonzalez and Will Clark-is a combined three for 24 with no RBIs. The Yankees aren't getting much from their big hitters, either-Paul O'Neill, Bernie Williams and Tino Martinez are a combined three for 21 with no RBIs.

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