Darryl Strawberry Says Cancer Is Back

New York Yankee outfielder Darryl Strawberry, who was diagnosed with colon cancer in 1998 and underwent chemotherapy, said Friday his cancer has resurfaced.

“Right now, I have some physical issues that I have to deal with,” Strawberry told reporters when leaving a meeting with his probation officer in Florida. When asked whether he meant his cancer had returned, Strawberry said, “Yes.”

Strawberry was diagnosed with colon cancer in 1998 and underwent surgery and chemotherapy. In January, he said a test showed his colon was free of cancer.

Now a CT scan suggests the cancer has spread to lymph nodes, and Strawberry will undergo more tests next week, said his agent, Eric Grossman.

“I’m in for another battle,” Strawberry told WABC-TV. “I’m in a pretty good place now in my head, and I think that’s the most important thing. … I really don’t feel disturbed about the situation as much as I was before.”


Yankee manager Joe Torre told a hushed clubhouse the news.

“I’m sick to my stomach. You know it’s always there, that danger or potential of it coming back. It’s just very sad,” said Torre, who successfully battled prostate cancer. “Thank God there are just so many other ways to treat cancers today.”

Dr. Peter Wiernick, a cancer specialist at Our Lady of Mercy Hospital in the Bronx section of New York said a recurrence is common in one-third to one half of patients in situations similar to Strawberry’s. He insists there is hope for recovery.

“There’s a lot of progress in a relatively short period of time. There’s even more hope today than there has been in the past.”

Probation Concerns

The news came days after Strawberry, who is currently banned from baseball after testing positive for cocaine, had reportedly left a Florida drug clinic one month early to earn money to support his family. Sports Illustrated also reported that Strawberry had visited a South Florida swingers’ club which allows alcohol consumption.

Strawberry said he was unsure if his recent visit violated his probation.

“I really … choose not to get into that whole situation again. All I know is that I’m doing the right things for me and my family.”

Strawberry said Wednesday he has applied to Major League Baseball for early reinstatement from his one-year suspension, and will coach and perform other non-playing duties for the St. Paul Saints, an independent minor league team in Minnesota he played for in 1996 when no major league club was interested in him.

Saints General Manager Bill Fanning told The Associated Press on Thursday the team was eager to renew its relationship with Strawberry, and was currently talking with the All-Star about a potential role with the team in its community relations department.

Past Problems

In February, Strawberry was suspended for one year by baseball Commissioner Bud Selig after testing positive for cocaine in January. It was Strawberry’s third cocaine-related suspension from baseball.

In 1995, Selig suspended him for 60 days following a positive test for cocaine use. In 1999, Selig banned him again from April 24 to Aug. 4 after the outfielder was arrested for cocaine possession and soliciting a prostitute. Strawberry later pleaded no contest to the charges and was undergoing regular drug tests as part of his legal punishment.

Strawberry’s run-ins with the law have not been limited to drugs.

In 1990, he was arrested for alleged assault with a deadly weapon during an argument with his wife. They were later divorced. Three years later, he was arrested for allegedly striking his girlfriend. No charges were filed in either incident.

In 1995, he was ordered to repay $350,000 in back taxes and sentenced to six months of home confinement, except for games. Later that year he was charged in California with failing to make child support payments.

ABCNEWS Radio and The Associated Press contributed to this report.