George Steinbrenner did not sound like a man whose resilient team has the second-best record in the American League. He is worried about the first-place Orioles, he wonders if the Yankees have enough resolve to motor into the postseason again and he even concedes that Hideki Irabu might not really boost the team until 1998.
Still, Irabu is a member of the Yankees because Steinbrenner went after him, and the Japanese pitcher is returning to the rotation against Kansas City on Wednesday because Steinbrenner desperately wants him to prove he can thrive.
“I think he’s a good pitcher, a very good pitcher,” said Steinbrenner. “What are my expectations? I’m done having them. I hope that he comes in here and helps us. Next year, he will be a key for us. He’ll have a full spring training and everything else. Let’s hope that he can give us something this year.”
When Steinbrenner was asked if Irabu’s second stint with the Yankees could harm their chemistry, he scoffed at the notion and replied:
“Did anyone complain when I brought in Strawberry last year?”
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