David Cone: ace pitcher, baseball commentator and - for one day in East Setauket - freelance contractor.

The former Yankees and Mets pitcher, and later Yankees television analyst, lent a hand Thursday at the "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" construction site on Ringneck Lane. Cone and 50 Yankees employees spent the afternoon helping workers for the television series build a new home for the family of Kathleen Lutz.

Cone, who admitted to being "pretty useless" with carpentry equipment, said he's "more of an interior design guy." Still, he donned a hard hat emblazoned with the Yankees logo and got to work, saying he believed the Lutzes - a family of eight, six of whom have Down syndrome - deserved the home.

"It's smoking hot today and nobody's complaining," Cone said.

Former longtime Yankees outfielder Bernie Williams, who was expected to appear, was sick, a Yankees spokesman said.

While Cone posed for pictures and signed autographs, the new Lutz house took shape as workers busily installed the facing walls and roof. A crowd of several hundred visited the scene over the course of a hot, humid day and watched from behind a barricade.

The home is expected to be finished by midday Saturday and unveiled midday Sunday, though weather has caused slight delays, said Seth Selesnow, spokesman for construction manager Alure of Plainview. The new house will be more than twice the size of the modest 50-year-old ranch the Lutzes had lived in, he said.

"This will be much more spacious and conducive to the needs" of the family, Selesnow said.

Thursday's crowd was a mix of "Extreme Makeover" enthusiasts, Yankees fans and general gawkers. Andrew Luces of Centereach, wearing a Robinson Cano T-shirt, said he came to catch a glimpse of Yankees greats.

"He pitched a perfect game in 1999. I think he can use a hammer," Luces said of Cone.

The "Extreme Makeover" episode about the Lutzes, who are on vacation in the Hamptons, will air in September, show sources said.

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