Strawberry Begins the Road Back

From Associated Press

Darryl Strawberry’s main concern now is just getting healthy again. He figures if he can do that, the home runs and RBIs will come.

“I was hitting home runs before I was hurt,” Strawberry said before starting a rehab stint Friday with the Dodgers’ Class AAA Albuquerque team. “The main thing here will be working on mechanics.”

Strawberry was set to start in right field for Albuquerque in Friday night’s Pacific Coast League game against Phoenix. He was expected to play five or six innings, Albuquerque manager Bill Russell said.

Suffering from lower back pain, Strawberry went on the 15-day disabled list two weeks ago. Last season, the injury limited him to only 43 games, and he underwent disk surgery last September.

After taking batting practice on Friday, Strawberry said he believes his back is improving.

“I’ve been feeling stronger the last couple of weeks,” Strawberry said. “It’s coming around in the right direction, but playing is the most important thing. We’ll have to see what happens on the field first.”

Strawberry was hitting .141 with four home runs and 10 RBIs before going on the disabled list. He will be with the Dukes through June 2.

Strawberry said he told Dodgers officials that he felt Albuquerque was the best place to begin his rehabilitation.

“To get back in at the major-league level would be stepping right back into the same fire,” Strawberry said. “There’s a tremendous amount of pressure. Everybody wants me to get back up there and be doing things just like before.”

The Dodgers, meanwhile, entered Friday’s game with a nine-game winning streak.

Strawberry has been working out two hours daily before taking batting practice. The regimen includes weight lifting and other rigorous activities.

“It has nothing to do with the whirlpool,” he said. “It’s a lot of hard work.”

And it’s a routine he said he’ll be performing for the long run.

“It’s going to be there for the rest of my career,” Strawberry said. “As long as I continue to play this game, physical therapy will be part of my daily routine.”