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Monday, April 26, 2004
Big Cat plans return this season

By Peter Gammons
Special to ESPN.com

April 26

Galarraga
Galarraga

Andres Galarraga is healthy, ready and willing, and he believes he is still able to help a contender in the second half of the season.

"There has been some stuff out there that I'm not doing well," said Galarraga on Monday from his West Palm Beach, Fla., home. "But they're not true. I feel great. I'm working out five days a week, and I know that I can come back and help someone."

The 42-year-old Galarraga, who batted .301 with 12 homers for the Giants last season, was diagnosed with a recurrence of the non-Hodgkins lymphoma that kept him out of the entire 1999 season when he went into the Northwestern University Hospital in November. He underwent surgery in November and had a transplant in early February to ensure that the disease would be permanently eliminated from his body.

Galarraga had decided not to make the operation public, which agent Fernando Cuza of SFX said was ironic since "we had more calls this offseason than any before." The recovery process was expected to take a few months, but weeks ago Galarraga began his rehab and has put in up to five hard workouts a week.

"I feel as good as I've felt in years," he says. "I know I can come back and help someone in a pennant race and try to make the postseason."

Galarraga has long been respected as a clubhouse presence and leader. With the Giants in 2003, he had an OPS of .943 against left-handers, and batted .300 as a pinch-hitter.

"I'm getting into playing shape," he says. "I've got my health. All I need is a chance."