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Former Yankee Oscar Azocar dead at 45

06/14/2010 4:39 PM ET
By The Associated Press
Former Major Leaguer Oscar Azocar, a free-swinging outfielder when he debuted for the New York Yankees in 1990, died Monday. He was 45.

The native Venezuelan died at a hospital in Valencia, said Diogenes Nazar, press spokesman for one of Azocar's former teams, the Navegantes del Magallanes.

Azocar hit .226 with five home runs and 36 RBIs in a three-year career. Promoted from the Minors by the Yankees in July 1990, he got a pinch-hit single in his first big league at-bat, then homered, doubled and singled in his next game.

Azocar was hitting .350 with four home runs after his first 20 games, and was part of the last-place Yankees' youth movement, along with fellow rookies Deion Sanders, Jim Leyritz, Mike Blowers and Kevin Maas.

But the Yankees grew impatient over Azocar's impatience at the plate - it took 130 times up before he drew his first walk. The Yankees traded him to San Diego after his rookie season and he spent two years with San Diego.

Azocar finished up in the Mexican league, playing his last season in 2001.

Azocar started his career as a pitcher before switching to the outfield. He played for several teams in Venezuela.

During the Caribbean Series played in Venezuela last February, Azocar was inducted into the Caribbean region's baseball hall of fame.

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