Strawberry Has Colon Cancer

Boston Bruin goaltender Tim Thomas ducks as the puck comes off the crossbar behind him during the second period against the Ottawa Senators in Ottawa, Jan. 30, 2006. Thomas stopped 44 shots to earn his first career shutout with a 5-0 win over the Senators.
AP

Darryl Strawberry has a walnut-sized tumor in his colon and will undergo surgery on Saturday.

The New York Yankees outfielder underwent medical tests Thursday at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in Manhattan which confirmed his earlier fears as to what had been the source of his stomach irritation over the past two months.

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  • One of those tests was believed to be a colonoscopy, a procedure that Strawberry submitted to after an initial examination on Wednesday. The 36-year-old Strawberry was not with the team for Wednesday's 3-1 victory against the Texas Rangers in Game 2 of the Division Series and reportedly is resting at his home in New York.

    Yankees manager Joe Torre will address the media later Thursday in Texas but longtime teammate David Cone was clearly moved.

    "We have been close for a very long time and have been through the ups and downs of New York," said Cone, Strawberry's teammate on the Yankees and the New York Mets. "It is an extremely difficult situation. It can be confusing and scary. Our hearts are really with him."

    The news regarding Strawberry comes one day after former Kansas City Royals reliever Dan Quisenberry died of cancer at the age of 45. The Yankees hold a 2-0 lead over the Texas Rangers in their best-of-5 Division Series, but that is furthest from their minds right now.

    "Those types of life-and-death situations supercede baseball in every way," said Cone, who had his own scare with an aneurysm in his arm two years ago. "When you think back to the last couple of days and to what happened with Dan Quisenberry and his family. ... It shakes you up. You kind of forget about hanging a slider or the magnitude of the games."

    Baltimore Orioles outfielde Eric Davis, Strawberry's childhood buddy and best friend, was diagnosed with colon cancer during the 1997 season but underwent surgery and chemotherapy before returning in September. He then batted .327 with 28 home runs and 89 RBIs in 1998.

    It was another reversal of fortune for Strawberry, who always has made headlines on and off the field throughout his career.

    The slugger has won a Rookie of the Year award, a home-run title and a pair of World Series crowns. He also has fought opponents and teammates, battled substance abuse and tax problems and endured divorces and releases.

    In his third year with the Yankees and 15th overall, Strawberry hit .247 with 24 home runs and 57 RBIs in only 295 at-bats. Used as a platoon left fielder and designated hitter, he got off to a torrid start.

    Strawberry slumped late in the season, but hit enough to hide his ailment. According to Torre, the team believed his problems stemmed from a gimpy knee.

    Strawberry is the only major-leaguer to play with the Yankees, Mets, Dodgers and Giants -- the four teams with New York roots. He has 332 home runs and 994 RBI in his career, which began with the Mets in 1983.

    During his eight years with the Mets, Strawberry won the 1983 National League Rookie of the Year award, was part of the World Series winners in 1986 and led the NL with 39 homers in 1988. He also punched teammate Keith Hernandez and was involved in a handful of publicized spats with his first wife, Lisa.

    Strawberry signed as a free agent with his hometown Dodgers after the 1990 season and encountered back trouble two years later. Prior to the 1994 season, he admitted to substance abuse and entered a rehabilitation center.

    The Dodgers released Strawberry in May 1994 and he latched on with the Giants before facing more substance-abuse problems. He was suspended by Major League Baseball for 60 days in 1995 and released by the Giants.

    Following the ban, Yankees owner George Steinbrenner signed Strawberry in what was considered a publicity move. However, Strawberry returned to the majors late in the 1995 season and was a contributor to the 1996 World Series championship team, hitting .262 with 11 home runs and 36 RBIs in 63 games.

    Mistakes as a young adult have saddled Strawberry with heavy payments for child support and back taxes. He has remarried and often speaks of his commitment to his family.

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