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."

Strawberry hit 335 homers from 1983 to 2000, also playing for
the New York Mets, Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants. He
served three suspensions related to cocaine use.

"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."