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Around The Area Camps

Steinbrenner fumes over Strawberry miscommunication

By MARC TOPKIN, TIMES WIRES

© St. Petersburg Times, published March 20, 1999


ST. PETERSBURG -- An angered George Steinbrenner ordered Yankees GM Brian Cashman home Friday because of a miscommunication concerning Darryl Strawberry.

Steinbrenner, who later toned down his anger, was visibly miffed upon learning Strawberry showed up at Legends Field in Tampa to hone his swing before his scheduled chemotherapy session, only to discover no one was around to throw batting practice and no batting cages were set up to accommodate him.

Cashman and Don Zimmer said Strawberry wasn't expected at the complex because of his chemo session, especially since he didn't inform anyone of his desire to work out.

"If he wanted to hit, all he had to do was come early and talk to (hitting coach) Chris (Chambliss)," Zimmer said. "All he had to do was ask somebody."

EL DUQUE FATIGUE: Orlando Hernandez got a bit tired on the mound, and the Yankees figure that was a good thing.

Hernandez labored a bit through 41/3 innings against the Devil Rays, allowing seven hits and four runs, but the Yankees say that is all part of the process of getting him ready for a full major-league season.

"El Duque is a finesse pitcher and it takes those guys a little longer to get in shape and a little bit longer to get things together," Zimmer said.

Hernandez, 1-0 with a 4.11 ERA in four appearances, was pitching on three days of rest rather than the customary four, and pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre said he handled it fine. "I was happy with what I saw today," Stottlemyre said. "He got the ball up and got hit a bit, but we knew he was a little tired."


-- Byrd soars, then crashes

CLEARWATER -- Every appearance for right-hander Paul Byrd is critical in his fight for one of two spots in the Phillies rotation

Friday's start against Texas didn't hurt, but it didn't help him either.

* * *

Byrd, 5-2 with a 2.29 ERA in eight starts with the Phillies last season, made the opening portion of his second spring start memorable.

Facing the team with the highest batting average (.289) in the American League last season and a club that had scored 50 runs in its past six games, Byrd held it to three hits and no runs through four innings.

"I have to show them that I can do what I did last year," said Byrd after the 6-6 12-inning game before 4,475. "I did what I could do while my arm was strong."

All that changed in the fifth. Trailing 5-0, the Rangers scored four runs on five hits and a walk to chase Byrd. First baseman Scott Sheldon hit a two-run homer, Juan Gonzalez had a run-scoring single and Rusty Greer added a sacrifice fly.

"I hate giving up runs like that," Byrd said. "I'm still competing for a job. Ideally, that was the last thing that I wanted to happen."

Locked in a battle with Paul Spoljaric and Mike Grace, Byrd said no one can be considered a front-runner.

"I don't think anyone knows (who has the edge)," he said. USING THE BAT: Though Byrd might be disappointed in his last inning, at least he showed something with the bat. He gave himself a 1-0 lead in the second when C Mike Lieberthal scored on his groundout at first. In the fourth, he bunted SS Alex Arias to second. Arias later scored on Dave Doster's double.
-- ROGER MILLS

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