Darryl Strawberry says he was so intent on resuming his career after colon cancer surgery that he lied about his chemotherapy and started drinking after the season began without him.
"I wasn't mad at anyone. I was mad at myself more than anything," the suspended New York Yankees outfielder said. "I expected more out of myself and felt I let myself down."
Strawberry spoke Friday as he worked out at a team facility for the first time since his arrest on drug and solicitation charges three months ago.
He said he fell into a deep depression when the Yankees broke spring training and left him behind in Tampa to continue rehabilitation at the minor league complex.
He said he covered up the fact that he was still undergoing chemotherapy because he didn't want to hurt his chances of making the team.
"My body went through some changes, some changes I've never experienced before in my life. It was very hard for me," Strawberry said. "I think I was really too hard on myself, pressing myself to do too much, instead of allowing myself to wait until my body started feeling better. I take a lot of that responsibility on myself."
He also blamed his relapse with alcohol on himself, saying he "slacked off" on attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. The eight-time all-star spent four weeks in a rehab clinic for substance abuse in 1994 and was suspended for 60 days the following year after testing positive for cocaine.
"People have a tendency to come down on athletes, but we have people in very high positions that go through the same struggles I do with my alcoholism," Strawberry said.
"I'm clean and sober today, and that's the most important thing. I want to stay that way. I'm back on the right track."
Strawberry was arrested April 14 in Tampa and charged with possession of 0.3 grams of cocaine and offering an undercover female police officer $50 for sex.
He pleaded no contest six weeks later and was placed on 18 months' probation. He was ordered to stay out of bars and be tested for drugs twice a week.
On Friday, the 37-year-old outfielder stretched, ran, took fly balls and 15 minutes of batting practice at the Yankees minor league complex. He hit 18 balls out of the park before continuing the closed workout in the weight room.
Baseball placed Strawberry on on administrative leave following his arrest. Commissioner Bud Selig said he could rejoin the Yankees Aug. 11, and possibly this month.
"It's in the commissioner's hands," said Strawberry, who wouldn't speculate on how long it might take him to get into shape.
| Darryl Strawberry said he fell into deep depression when the Yankees broke spring camp and left him behind. (AP)|
"I'll let the team judge where I'm at, physically and mentally, as far as getting back," he said, adding he feels "extremely healthy" now that he's through with chemotherapy.
Strawberry apologized to Yankees owner George Steinbrenner "for any embarrassment, any pain and shame that I caused him because he's done so many great things for me as a person and helped me in so many ways."
He said Steinbrenner felt let down, yet "realized all the things that I've been trying to overcome."
"There was a world of pressure on me. I felt very hurt about the situation April 14 because I had been such a good citizen ever since I've been over here with the Yankees," Strawberry said.
He was asked about those who think he doesn't deserve another chance.
"Things that have happened to me are things that I bring on myself. It's not anyone else," Strawberry said. "I'm not going to criticize what others have to say. I just hope they wish me well."
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