Strawberry in trouble after failed drug test

Commissioner likely to discipline Yankee

February 23, 2000|By Peter Schmuck | Peter Schmuck,SUN STAFF

TAMPA, Fla. -- New York Yankees outfielder Darryl Strawberry is in trouble again, and could face another drug-related suspension after it was revealed last night that he tested positive for cocaine in January.

Two television stations released a report from the Florida Department of Corrections late yesterday afternoon that documents the failed drug test, administered on Jan. 19 as part of the regular drug testing that is a condition of his probation for a 1999 conviction on cocaine and solicitation charges.

Strawberry reportedly has been disciplined for the infraction by the presiding judge in that case, so he apparently will face no further legal consequences, but it appears certain that he'll face stern disciplinary action from baseball commissioner Bud Selig for another in a series of substance-related infractions.

The veteran outfielder served a 113-day suspension for the original arrest and could face a longer penalty -- perhaps even a lifetime ban -- for the latest setback in his fight against cocaine addiction.

He also was suspended for 60 days after he tested positive for drugs while he was a member of the San Francisco Giants in 1995 and has struggled to remain drug and alcohol free during his recent tenure with the New York Yankees.

Selig was not available for comment, but is expected to make a statement today or tomorrow. Yankees officials were still gathering information late last night and also chose to withhold comment on the situation, at least until today.

Strawberry's star-crossed career also included a much-publicized bout with alcoholism when he played for the New York Mets and a conviction on tax evasion charges. Nevertheless, he received a huge outpouring of public affection when it was revealed during the 1998 playoffs that he was battling colon cancer.

Though Yankees officials would not reveal whether they already knew of the failed drug test before it leaked to the media last night, manager Joe Torre cryptically predicted earlier in the day that something would shake the unusually tranquil Yankees training camp.

He was asked after yesterday's workout about the surprisingly uneventful first week of camp.

"It's early," Torre said. "I have a sense that something will happen here that will stir the pot, though I have no idea what it might be."

The revelation had to be a huge disappointment to Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, who adopted Strawberry as a pet project after the troubled outfielder washed out of the Giants and Dodgers organizations.

If Strawberry is suspended for the balance of the season or longer, it also will be a huge blow to the Yankees, who were depending on him to be the club's regular designated hitter.

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