Boss gives Straw role
NEW YORK -- Mel Stottlemyre is coming back to the New York Yankees next season, and so is Darryl Strawberry.
Stottlemyre told the team Thursday that he decided to stay on as pitching coach for the ninth season.
Strawberry, an eight-time All-Star who has overcome a drug addiction, prison and cancer, was hired as a player development instructor. He will work with the major league team during spring training and with minor leaguers the rest of the year.
"I am pleased that Darryl has shown the strength and the determination to come back and re-establish a decent and productive life for himself and his family," Yankees owner George Steinbrenner said in a statement.
"Our young players will learn from his knowledge and talents as a ballplayer as well as from the mistakes he has made," said Steinbrenner Thursday. "I will not turn my back on a man who has failed and is doing everything possible to turn his life around."
After the World Series loss to Florida last month, Stottlemyre had wanted to talk to his family before deciding whether to return.
Manager Joe Torre's other chief aide, bench coach Don Zimmer, quit, saying he never wanted to work for Steinbrenner again.
Stottlemyre said he felt "personally abused," and Torre repeatedly said he hoped the pitching coach would stay on.
Stottlemyre is close to Andy Pettitte, and the coach's decision could help the Yankees in their quest to re-sign the free agent left-hander, who went 21-8 in 2003.
Strawberry, 41, was with the Yankees in parts of five seasons from 1995-99. He was released from Gainesville Correctional Institution in April after serving 11 months for violating probation on cocaine possession charges.
He also has been treated for colon and stomach cancer.
"I want to be a positive role model for somebody," Strawberry said during a telephone conference call. "I didn't reach my full potential. Hopefully, I can help somebody reach theirs."
"I believe in teaching," Strawberry said. "I believe I can help young players not only with baseball, but with off the field, some of the struggles I've gone through."
Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press
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