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Strawberry Says His Cancer Is Back

July 28, 2000

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) _ Darryl Strawberry’s cancer has returned, adding to the string of misfortunes and legal problems besetting the suspended New York Yankees slugger.

As he faced questions about his probation, Strawberry said Friday his first priority would be to fight his cancer.

``Physically, I have some situations coming up right now that’s going to be real difficult for me,″ Strawberry said without elaborating. ``So I have to deal with them at this point.″

Asked by reporters if his cancer had returned, the eight-time All-Star replied: ``Yes,″ and walked away.

The 38-year-old outfielder would not comment on the possibility that he violated terms of probation on April 1999 charges of possessing cocaine and soliciting a prostitute.

Strawberry was diagnosed with colon cancer in 1998 and underwent surgery and chemotherapy. In January, he said a test showed his colon was free of cancer.

A CT scan suggests the possibility his colon cancer has spread to lymph nodes that were nearby his original tumor, and he will undergo more tests next week, said Strawberry’s agent, Eric Grossman

``I have a wonderful family and a beautiful new baby that I look forward to watching grow up, and I intend to do whatever it takes to tackle this problem so that I can enjoy the rest of my life with them,″ Strawberry said in a statement released by Grossman.

In Minnesota before the Yankees’ game with the Twins, manager Joe Torre told a hushed clubhouse of the latest news about Strawberry.

``I’m sick to my stomach. You know it’s always there, that danger or potential of it coming back. It’s just very sad,″ said Torre, who successfully battled prostate cancer. ``Thank God there’s just so many other ways to treat cancers today.″

Shortstop Derek Jeter added: ``Everyone’s shocked again. It’s just unfortunate. Hopefully, everything will be all right.

``He’s had a streak of misfortunes. ... Just when you think you’ve gotten over cancer, and it comes right back.″

Earlier Friday, Strawberry had a regularly scheduled meeting with corrections officials, and was questioned about why he left his drug aftercare program _ a possible violation of his probation.

Joe Papy, regional director for the Florida Department of Corrections, declined to discuss what Strawberry told officers or whether Strawberry cited his health as the reason for leaving Sobrenity Inc.’s outpatient program early.

He said Strawberry appeared to be forthright with his answers and provided names of people who could corroborate his story. The next step is to contact those people.

Papy said Strawberry passed his drug test Friday, just as he has three times a week since January, and that there have been no indications that the outfielder has been drinking.

While still undergoing chemotherapy, Strawberry returned to baseball in March 1999. A month later, he was charged with possessing cocaine and soliciting a prostitute. Pleading no contest, Strawberry was sentenced to 18 months’ probation and 100 hours of community service.

Strawberry also was questioned about a Sports Illustrated report that he joined a swingers club last month and has been seen there on several occasions since he first visited with a friend and was told membership was required for admittance.

The magazine also ran a photograph of Strawberry posing with a woman identified as a member of the club.

As part of his probation, Strawberry was ordered not to use drugs or frequent establishments where the main source of income is alcohol.

Trapeze II, which Sports Illustrated said the eight-time All-Star joined last month, is a Fort Lauderdale club in which alcohol reportedly is not sold. Patrons may bring their own.

Strawberry wrote a letter to commissioner Bud Selig several weeks ago asking that the third drug-related suspension of his career be ended early, a high-ranking baseball official said on the condition he not be identified. The one-year ban is scheduled to run through February. Selig’s original ruling did not make any provisions for Strawberry to return early for good behavior.

Strawberry told the New York Daily News he ended his 3 1/2-month stay at the drug clinic because he needs to support his wife and children and explore returning to baseball.

Papy said leaving the clinic early could constitute a violation of parole, but that it was too soon to speculate because authorities had not received a report from Sobrenity Inc.

The corrections official said Strawberry had been enrolled in an outpatient aftercare program since completing an inpatient treatment program.

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