Strawberry Resting Comfortably

Darryl Strawberry's cancerous colon tumor was removed Saturday and doctors said the disease did not appear to have spread.

Surgeons at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center removed a 16-inch portion of his large intestine to get rid of a tumor almost 21/2 inches long, according to a statement issued by the hospital and the team. The tumor had nearly obstructed Strawberry's intestine.

Doctors said the three-hour operation went smoothly and his liver did not show any sign of cancer. Surgeons reconnected the intestine after removing the diseased segment.

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  • Strawberry's medical team planned to test the tissue surgeons removed to see if any cancer had spread to his lymph nodes. The results, which usually take about a week to come in, will tell doctors whether he needs chemotherapy.

    The 36-year-old New York Yankees outfielder was resting comfortably with his family after the operation as well-wishers gathered outside the upper Manhattan hospital -- about a mile from Yankee Stadium.

    "He means an awful lot to me," said Joe Perez, a red-eyed fan standing vigil for Strawberry. "I love that man like a brother."

    Strawberry, whose career has been interrupted and drug- and alcohol-related suspensions and a federal tax evasion conviction, was having his best season in years. As a designated hitter and sometimes left fielder, he hit .247 with 24 homers - his highest total since 1991 -- and 57 RBIs in 101 games. He also set an American League record with two pinch-hit grand slams.

    His surgery dominated talk radio and filled the front -- and back -- pages of New York City's tabloids.

    "You Gotta Believe," urged the New York Post's front page, taking a cue from the New York Mets' 1973 battle cry. Strawberry started his checkered career with the Mets in 1983 and is the only player to win World Series championships with both the Mets and Yankees.

    "It's another hill to climb," Strawberry said Friday, wiping away a tear as he recalled the get-well video sent to him by his Yankees teamates.

    "They mean so much to me," he told ESPN from his home in Fort Lee, N.J. "I want them to know my heart is with them."

    In Arlington, Texas, the Yankees had Strawberry's No. 39 embroidered onto their hats, and they watched a taped message from him before wrapping up a three-game sweep of the Texas Rangers in the first round of the playoffs.

    He told them: "Get going, beat them. He pointed at us and said, `Do it!' The guys got a chuckle out of that," manager Joe Torre said.

    Even the losing team wished him well. Several Rangers also wore his number in some manner.

    "Baseball is very, very, very important to all of us," Rangers manager Johnny Oates said. "But the bottom line is sometimes we have to step aside and think about human beings."

    Strawberry joins about 100,000 Americans diagnosed each year with colon cancer, the third deadliest of the cancer killers.

    Two years ago at Columbia-Presbyterian, another member of the Yankees family was fighting for his life. Torre's brother, Frank, underwent a heart transplant as the team was winning its 23rd World Series title.

    He said it was his troubled past that prepared him for what was ahead.

    Strawberry's wife, Charisse, was told by doctors about her husband's condition while he was still under anesthesia following a colonoscopy on Thursday.

    "They told me there was a tumor and they believed it was 99 percent malignant," she said. Then she gave him the news.

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