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Cone Has Aneurysm in Arm

May 8, 1996

NEW YORK (AP) _ David Cone’s numb fingers are due to a small, treatable aneurysm in his right arm. What the New York Yankees don’t know how long their ace will be sidelined.

``I don’t think it’s a life-threatening thing,″ Yankees general manager Bob Watson said Tuesday night after New York beat Detroit 12-5. ``They caught it early, which is what we were hoping they would do. What we are going to do is wait until we have the complete medical data, which I hope will be (today).″

The Yankees said tests Tuesday at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center revealed the aneurysm, an abnormal ballooning of a blood vessel. However, the team didn’t talk about Cone’s prognosis and team physician Dr. Stuart Hershon declined comment, refusing to say if Cone will undergo surgery.

``You can’t tell if he’s going to be out two weeks or the entire season,″ Yankees reliever John Wetteland said. ``There’s not enough to go on.″

Cone, 4-1 with an AL-leading 2.03 ERA, had been scheduled to pitch Tuesday night. But the 33-year-old right-hander missed a start for just the second time in his career and remained at the hospital overnight.

``We’re not machines. We’re not robots,″ Yankees third baseman Wade Boggs said. ``In the blink of an eye, something can happen. This is reality.″

Cone, who signed a $19.5 million, three-year contract last winter _ the highest average salary ever for a pitcher _ has experienced problems in his pitching hand since warming up in cold weather at Milwaukee on April 17.

``When people go down, other guys just have to pick it up,″ Yankees catcher Joe Girardi said. ``We have a lot of talent here. I don’t think there’s anyone here who hasn’t been through this somewhere. It’s not like he’s not going to be back. And even while he’s away, David’s going to be here in spirit.″

Scott Kamieniecki will take Cone’s turn in the rotation. In Tuesday’s game, he allowed four runs (three earned) and seven hits in 5 1-3 innings. He struck out six and walked four.

``I feel bad for David,″ Kamieniecki said. ``I didn’t envision being in the rotation because of something like this. You can’t replace David Cone. I’m just going to go out there and throw my game.″

Cone pitched five ineffective innings on both April 17 and in his next start April 22. Four days later, he went to Columbia-Presbyterian for tests, including an angiogram, and missed a start for the first time in nine years.

The original tests revealed a slight circulatory problem. He was placed on blood thinners and ordered not to use alcohol, nicotine or caffeine. He returned May 2 and pitched a five-hitter, defeating the Chicago White Sox 5-1.

Cone threw 127 pitches in that game and said he felt fine the next day.

``I feel normal,″ he said at the time. ``I’m not 100 percent out of the woods yet with this thing, but I feel good.″

Three days later, however, the tingling had spread to his palm as well as the second and third fingers. He left Yankee Stadium before Monday night’s game.

``They were down, obviously,″ Yankees manager Joe Torre said of his players. ``They were concerned about David and it took a lot of luster off the win tonight.″

Hall of Fame pitchers Whitey Ford and Sandy Koufax experienced numbness problems. Koufax missed the last 2 1/2 months of the 1962 season because of a circulation problem. Ford, near the end of his career, felt numbness and coldness in his hand, and the problem was diagnosed as a vascular condition.

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