TAMPA, Fla. -- When he spoke to Darryl Strawberry this week, Derek Jeter offered his support. He liked what he heard about the suspended slugger even more.
Strawberry checked himself into a drug rehabilitation clinic in West Palm Beach, trying to get help for the cocaine problem that ended his 2000 season and may have finished him forever in the majors.
"That's his first step, a step he needs to take for recovery," Jeter said Thursday. "Getting his life in order, that comes before baseball and his career. I'm very happy to see he's doing that."
Strawberry was banned for one year Monday and disclosed Wednesday that he had entered a treatment center. Jeter talked to his teammate in between.
"He didn't get into specifics," the star shortstop said. "He appreciated the support and I told him I was there for him. We're all there for him. I care about Straw, even if he's out of baseball. It could be 20, 50 years from now because I consider him a friend, almost like a family member."
David Cone, perhaps Strawberry's closest friend on the team, echoed that sentiment.
"He obviously needs to take that particular step at this time to get his addiction under control. That is priority No. 1," he said. "Sometimes it takes some extended care to help with that strong of an addiction."
Strawberry, who turns 38 this month, received his third drug-related suspension. This will mark his third stay in a rehabilitation clinic.
In 1990, Strawberry entered the Smithers Center in New York for alcohol rehabilitation. And in 1994, he spent 28 days at the Betty Ford Center in Rancho Mirage, Calif., for treatment of a substance abuse problem.
Strawberry, in a statement this week, said he would be in treatment "for the foreseeable future."
The two-time World Series champions had hoped to have Strawberry as their main designated hitter this year. Now, the Yankees are only concerned about his well being, even if it does not involve baseball.
"He's taking steps that he needs to get his life in order," third baseman Scott Brosius said. "That's what he needs to focus on, and we're glad to hear he's doing it."
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