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Yankees Sign Dwight Gooden

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NEW YORK (AP) — The New York Yankees are giving Dwight Gooden yet another chance.

The 35-year-old right-hander, 10 victories shy of 200 in the major leagues, has signed a minor league contract with the Yankees.

``We still feel like he has something left in his arm,'' Yankees pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre said Sunday. Stottlemyre coached Gooden with the Mets and the Yankees.

Gooden, released by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays two weeks ago, told The Sunday Record of Hackensack that he was ``totally blown away'' at the opportunity to pitch for the Yankees again.

``George Steinbrenner is giving me a chance, and I'm going to make the most of it,'' he told the paper.

Steinbrenner gave Gooden a chance before. The right-hander joined the Yankees in 1996 after missing the 1995 season because of a drug suspension.

``They love him here,'' Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter said. ``there are certain guys that New Yorkers always love. Doc is one of those guys. It seems like wherever he is he is always popular here.''

Gooden threw the ninth no-hitter in club history May 14, 1996, against the Mariners. He went 20-12 with a 4.58 ERA in two seasons with the Yankees, but left following injuries and personal differences with manager Joe Torre.

Gooden was 2-3 with a 6.86 ERA for Houston and Tampa Bay this season. He is 190-110 with a 3.51 ERA for his career.

But the Yankees, who might have to put RAMIRO MENDOZA on the disabled list, have little risk in signing Gooden because the Devil Rays will pay the bulk of his $500,000 salary.

Gooden will spend at least a week working at the club's minor league complex in Tampa, Fla., and will go to Triple-A Columbus when his arm strength is back.

``We want to get him into shape and maybe he can provide us a little insurance,'' Stottlemyre said. ``You never know when you are going to need some more pitching.''
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