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 Wednesday, March 1
Gooden saddened by friend's troubles
Associated Press

  KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Dwight Gooden, forever linked to Darryl Strawberry because of the good times they shared and the bad times each has endured, said Tuesday that he's saddened by his friend's latest suspension.

"I hate to see what has happened," said Gooden, who is trying to make the Houston Astros. "But all you can do is hope for the best for Darryl as a person. Even when baseball is over for him, he still has a life to live, and that's the important thing."

Strawberry was suspended from baseball for a year Monday, marking the third cocaine-related penalty of his career.

In the mid-1980s, Strawberry was the most-feared hitter in baseball and Gooden's right arm was among the game's most dominant. Together, they helped the New York Mets become world champions.

But vices derailed both seemingly Hall of Fame-bound careers.

The two have come back and showed flickers of their former selves, Gooden throwing a no-hitter and Strawberry helping the New York Yankees win the last two World Series. Yet they both remain symbols of what might have been.

They also remain close friends.

Gooden was there for Strawberry after his arrest last spring for charges of cocaine possession and solicitation of a prostitute, which came while the slugger was recovering from colon cancer surgery.

Gooden again is willing to offer a helping hand.

"I wish him the best," Gooden said. "I haven't talked to him since his last incident, but I plan to give him a call after everything has settled down."

Strawberry, an eight-time All-Star, faces his third suspension in five years. He tested positive to a Jan. 19 drug test that was part of his punishment for his no-contest plea to last year's charges.

He turns 38 in two weeks, so his future as a big-leaguer is in doubt.

Gooden, 35, has a minor-league deal with the Astros, meaning he must pitch his way onto the team this spring.


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