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SUBWAY SERIES | WORLD SERIES / Yankees vs. Mets : NOTES

Strawberry Arrested Again

October 26, 2000|ROSS NEWHAN and MIKE DiGIOVANNA

NEW YORK — The New York Yankees, preparing for Game 4 of the World Series on Wednesday night, received more troubling news about Darryl Strawberry. Their former outfielder was arrested in Tampa, Fla., after a weekend drug binge in which he admittedly smoked crack cocaine and took 10 Xanax, a tranquilizer used to treat anxiety, according to Joe Papy, regional director for the Florida Department of Corrections.

Strawberry, who is recovering from colon cancer, was two months into a two-year term for drug and prostitution solicitation charges.

Yankee Manager Joe Torre said that he was saddened by this latest development.

"People who know Darryl have to feel for him," Torre said. "I've never had a habit that consumed me, so it's tough to make a judgment on somebody. But knowing what he has had to go through cancer-wise and treatment -wise--not that you can stick up for what he's doing or what he's done--but maybe half of you says that because of what he's going through, maybe that's part of the reason he's doing it.

"Again, that doesn't make it right. But I think understanding that he's going through a very tough time and doing this to himself basically, well, that's the saddest part."

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You can't lump Yankee center fielder Bernie Williams into that group of October underachievers that includes Frank Thomas and Barry Bonds. Entering this World Series, the switch-hitter had a .331 average with 10 homers and 34 RBIs in division series and championship series play.

But come late October, Williams' bat seems to go into hibernation. The cleanup hitter has made a mess of things in this World Series, going hitless in 15 at-bats against the Mets to drop his career World Series average to .118 (eight for 68) in 18.

"It is uncharacteristic for him because of what he has done for us, not only in post-season, but every year I've been here," Torre said. "Every time Bernie gets up there, especially when he's gone through a dry spell, you expect a big boomer."

With the exception of Williams' sixth-inning strikeout with two on and two outs against Dennis Cook in Game 3, Torre thought he had good at-bats Tuesday night and was confident he would break out of his funk. But Torre did chat with Williams before Game 4, reminding him to relax.

"We talked about turning it down a notch or two," Torre said. "He's trying to hit it into the parking lot instead of just over the fence. He's pumped up and he wants to help the team, but he needs to turn the volume down a touch."

Williams went 0 for 4 Wednesday.

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Yankee left-hander Andy Pettitte, who will oppose Met left-hander Al Leiter in Game 5 tonight, admitted that the Roger Clemens bat-throwing incident and its accompanying coverage has diminished his Subway Series experience.

"It's really been kind of discouraging to me, just the way everything's panned out and stuff," Pettitte said.

"It's almost like the focus is not even on the teams anymore, it's on the individual players and stuff like that. So, I think with everything that's happened, it's kind of lost a little bit of its luster, as far as us playing the Mets."

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Leiter, who gave up two runs on five hits in seven innings of Game 1, gaining a no-decision in a 4-3, 12-inning loss, had a far better record at home (9-3, 2.67 earned run average) than on the road (7-5, 3.70) this season, and that could be a factor tonight.

"There's a lot to be said about being comfortable on your mound, the perception you get from your catcher behind the stands, the fans behind you," Leiter said. "I like this place. It's a pitcher's park, there's a lot of room in the outfield, and the grass slows some grounders down."

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Met reliever John Franco, 40, who worked a scoreless inning to gain the win in Game 3, became the second-oldest pitcher to win a World Series game. Dolph Luque of the New York Giants was 43 when he beat the Washington Senators in Game 5 in 1933.

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