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Around The Area Camps

News darkens Strawberry return

By Staff, wire reports

© St. Petersburg Times, published March 11, 1999

FORT MYERS -- On the day the Yankees learned manager Joe Torre has prostate cancer, Darryl Strawberry made his first appearance in a game since colon cancer surgery.

Strawberry, still being treated with chemotherapy, went 1-for-4 as the designated hitter as New York lost to the Red Sox 6-1 Wednesday in a split-squad game.

"I really couldn't get as motivated as I would have with Joe having been diagnosed with cancer," said Strawberry, whose chemotherapy treatments are scheduled to end in May. "The most important part for me is just getting my feet back on the ground. The main thing is being back out there."

Strawberry was greeted with applause when he was introduced before his first at-bat.

IRABU REPORTS NO PAIN: RHP Hideki Irabu, who had tightness in his back this week, allowed four runs and five hits in 32/3 innings against Boston and said he felt no problems with his back.

SPLIT DECISION: Bernie Williams hit a two-run single in a five-run ninth inning as a split squad rallied past the Pirates 8-4 in Bradenton. RHP Ramiro Mendoza allowed two hits in four scoreless innings.

Grace sparkles in emergency start

WINTER HAVEN -- Tyler Green's lack of arm strength turned into Mike Grace's opportunity.

Grace definitely made the most of it.

Handed the starting assignment Green didn't feel ready for, Grace turned in three impressive innings against the Indians to solidify his candidacy for the fifth starter's job.

"I know it's early in spring training, but after the way he pitched, he's got reason to feel good about himself," manager Terry Francona said of Grace after the Phillies' 4-0 win at Chain O'Lakes Park.

Grace gave up one hit, walked one and struck out four.

To Francona, the best part wasn't the result. It was the overwhelming evidence that Grace finally appears healthy.

"It looked like he was competing, not rehabbing," Francona said. "His arm speed was better. That was the thing that was lacking last year. He really humped up on some fastballs."

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