TAMPA, Fla. -- Darryl Strawberry was ordered off the field while participating in a New York Yankee workout Wednesday, but he faces a stiffer discipline either Thursday or Friday.
He is likely to be suspended for the season after testing positive for cocaine Jan. 19, a high-ranking baseball official said.
It will be Strawberry's third drug-related suspension and could end his career, considering he will be 38 on March 12 and will have played only one month in a two-year span.
In the shocked Yankee clubhouse Wednesday, pitcher David Cone said, ''If this is all true, that has to be on everybody's mind. Is this the end? I can only hope it's not.''
After flying to Milwaukee on Tuesday to meet with Commissioner Bud Selig and plead his case, Strawberry arrived at the Yankee clubhouse Wednesday morning and read a statement in which he said:
''I'd just like to say I'm not running and hiding. I came here today because this is where I feel I want to be. I really can't comment on anything right now.''
The Yankees were about an hour into their workout when club officials waved Strawberry off the field and told him major league baseball did not want him participating while they are investigating his case.
''They felt it was best for Darryl to at least shut his practice down,'' General Manager Brian Cashman said. ''We've honored that, and so has Darryl.''
Strawberry was suspended for 60 days in 1995 and for 120 days on April 24 last year for violating baseball's drug policy and after-care program as a result of his April 4 arrest in Tampa on charges of cocaine possession and soliciting a prostitute. He entered a no-contest plea to those charges May 26 and was ordered to be tested two or three times a week.
Strawberry returned to the Yankees on Aug. 11 last season. He hit .327 with three homers in 49 at-bats down the stretch and hit two postseason home runs as the Yankees ultimately won their third World Series title in four years.
Having come back from colon cancer surgery in 1998, as well as his two suspensions, Strawberry basked in the glow of that latest World Series victory and was expected to be the Yankee designated hitter this year -- or to share that role with Jim Leyritz -- in the aftermath of Chili Davis' retirement.
Manager Joe Torre said Wednesday it was too soon to discuss the DH situation, that his emotions were too involved with Strawberry.
''This is very sad because you know what his life has been like, especially the last year and a half,'' Torre said. ''There's been a lot going on and it's been a constant and difficult struggle.
''You wish you could help him, but all you can do is support him. I hope it's not the end for him because I don't know what that would mean.''
Yankee owner George Steinbrenner has consistently supported Strawberry and, while watching Wednesday's workout at Legends Field, said he is not ready to give up on the former Crenshaw High product whose career -- and acknowledged talent -- has been plagued by controversy and personal problems.
''I'm going to stand by him,'' Steinbrenner said. ''I'm going to try to see that he rights his life. If it's in baseball, fine. If it's outside baseball, fine.
''It isn't like George has given him enough chances so I'm now going to dump him. That's not the way it's going to be. Naturally, we're all disappointed, but we all have to remember that this isn't something that's done in an act of violence or something like that. There are reasons, medical reasons. It's a sickness, and we're going to have to keep working at it.''
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