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    Mon yank news Rock + Rocket + 0-4 Start Nothing to Laugh About +C.K + Pagnozzi + +

    It would be great if Raines could get on a roster. What a come back THAT would be. I wish him all the best. The YANKEES have a pretty crowded outfield but maybe he can sign with another team.

    If you don't like the YANKEES go to another sight.


    March 6, 2000

    Raines Takes a Big Step in Comeback With Yanks

    AMPA, Fla., March 5 -- Words can be superfluous after 20 years of marriage, and when Tim Raines stepped out of the Yankees' dugout and into the on-deck circle in the second inning today, he turned to the stands and aimed a glance at Virginia Raines, his wife.

    Roger Clemens.
    That was all it took, he figured. No words. Just a glance, and she would know how much this moment meant to him, to be competing again, to be playing baseball, even with the incurable disease in his system. In his first full-fledged game since doctors told him he had lupus last summer, Raines ripped a single in his second at-bat, and later added a double, in the Yankees' 6-2 loss to the Houston Astros.

    The Yankees have lost all four of their exhibition games. They have not held a lead this spring, they have been outscored by 34-15 and several players acknowledged that while victories and losses don't really matter this time of year, it would probably be a good idea to mix in a victory soon.

    "We've got to do the right things to win," said Jorge Posada, the Yankees' catcher. "Right now, we're not swinging the bats the way we can. We know that. It's going to come, but nobody wants to go out there and lose."

    Afterward, Raines lingered in front of his locker, in a pair of shorts and a New World Order T-shirt, cheery as always, answering questions about his milestone day. The question he heard most often in the off-season -- "What are you doing now?" -- was well intentioned, he knew, but based on the presumption that, at 40, his baseball career was finished.

    "I didn't come back to prove I can get to spring training," Raines said. "I wanted to come back to play in the big leagues."

    He seemed like a long shot as recently as two weeks ago. The Yankees signed Raines just before the start of spring training mostly as a favor for his contributions to the team's championships in 1996 and 1998, and because he was such a positive influence in the clubhouse. The Yankees had no available spot for Raines, so the plan was to give him as many at-bats as possible to showcase his talents to scouts with other teams.

    But Darryl Strawberry was suspended for a year for using cocaine, and now the Yankees are looking for a left-handed designated hitter. Raines is here and he has looked good, probably better than anyone expected, little more than seven months after the diagnosis of his lupus, a disease that affects the autoimmune system and has no known cure.

    After the diagnosis, Raines, who was playing with the Oakland Athletics at the time, immediately began treatments that left him feeling horrible. He lost 40 pounds and required medication administered in four-hour sessions. Raines would go to the hospital, have an intravenous tube placed in his arm and watch ESPN and reruns of "Matlock" on television.

    Tim Raines hit a single and double in his first full-fledged game since he learned he had lupus last summer.
    He told members of the Yankees that he would come back, and said the same thing to George Steinbrenner, the team's principal owner. At the same time, Raines asked a doctor if he could play baseball again, and there was no answer. No one had ever heard of someone playing baseball with lupus.

    "The speculation when I first got sick was that I won't play again," Raines said in an interview last week. Virginia Raines "kind of fell into that, too -- 'I don't think you're going to be able to play again.' I told her, when I was first diagnosed, 'I'll be back, I'll be back.' But it depended on how my treatments went. We were dealing with something we never really heard of before."

    Raines was not allowed to work out until after Christmas. "Not even walking -- nothing," he said. One of the most productive base stealers in baseball history, Raines worked out for three weeks in January before he was able to push himself through a sprint.

    It was the first time he had ever trained side by side with his son, Tim Raines Jr., who will play his third season in the Baltimore Orioles' organization this year. The dream of father and son is to play at the same time in the major leagues. "He teased me about trying to stay around, because he's coming," the elder Raines said. "That kind of drives us both."

    He played in an intrasquad game last week, but was hit on the little toe and missed five days. Joe Torre, the Yankees' manager, told him he would play in Monday's exhibition against Cleveland, and Raines told his wife. But this morning, as Raines was getting treatment in the trainer's room, Torre asked if he was ready to play today.

    Raines was nervous -- more than he expected, more than he had felt at any time since the 1996 World Series -- as he stepped in to face Houston's Jose Lima today. "He could've thrown me a resin bag, and I would've swung at it," Raines said.

    He hit into a fielder's choice then, but singled in his second at-bat and, after fouling off four two-strike pitches, smashed his double. He did not save any piece of memorabilia from today's game, but he does plan to keep a ball or a bat, or both, if he makes the Yankees and plays in a regular-season game.

    "It will be a little more emotional," Raines said, "if I go to New York."


    Among the many left-handed hitters the Yankees have inquired about is MATT STAIRS, the Oakland slugger who bashed 38 home runs last year. It figures, however, that Oakland may want to at least open the season with Stairs, a popular and productive member of their club. If the recently acquired JEREMY GIAMBI develops into a viable option, the Athletics may be in a better position to swap Stairs.

    March 6, 2000

    Clemens Is Healthy but Ineffective


    AMPA, Fla., March 5 -- Roger Clemens found himself breathing hard as he jogged from the dugout to the mound today, and that is just the way he liked it. A panting pitcher would be of great concern if it were anybody but Clemens, who follows a regimen unique to him.

    Rather than rest between his half-innings of work, Clemens returned to the clubhouse to go through some cardiovascular training, to push himself, to wear himself out, to prepare for the regular season. Clemens allowed five runs in two and two-thirds innings, and was charged with the loss as Houston ripped the Yankees, 6-2.

    But Clemens felt healthy, without the aches that often accompanied his outings last year, and he felt strong, pumping his fastball. "I was a little further along than I was at this point last year," said Clemens, who devoted his off-season to running, shifting weight from his chest and shoulders.

    Clemens used five types of pitches among the 70 he threw today. In fact, the consensus was that Clemens might have tried to diversify too quickly in the second inning, when he allowed four runs. He did not make choices the way he had during the regular season, throwing several curveballs in a row just to get the motion down, and he did not really try to pitch inside that much, even after Jose Lima nailed Chuck Knoblauch, the Yankees' second baseman, with a pitch in