SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) — New Arizona Diamondbacks bench coach and former longtime Minnesota Twins manager Ron Gardenhire has prostate cancer.
The 59-year-old Gardenhire revealed the diagnosis in a meeting with reporters on Tuesday, saying it was the only time he would talk publicly about the subject this spring.
Gardenhire said he received the diagnosis about a week ago after tests in Minnesota and would undergo surgery to remove the prostate gland, probably the second week in April.
He said doctors believe they caught the cancer early and there was no sign of the disease when he took his annual physical exam in January of last year.
Gardenhire approaches the challenge with good humor.
“Now it’s about getting the thing taken out,” he said. “As I told the players and everybody, I’m trying to lose weight. I’m going to lose a five-pound prostate and that’s good.”
But it’s not that Gardenhire isn’t taking his condition seriously.
“As I’ve done everything in my life, we’ve attacked,” he said, “and I’m going to attack this. We’re going to challenge this and beat it.”
Gardenhire noted that the illness was caught early because baseball requires physicals every year.
“We are very fortunate in baseball that we have people looking out for us,” he said, “because we know there are a lot of people who don’t get physicals like they should and are not able to. We are very fortunate in baseball. Like I told my doctor, I tip my hat to you. They found this.”
Gardenhire managed the Twins for 13 seasons, winning six division titles, before being fired after the 2014 season.
He was special assistant to Twins general manager Terry Ryan last year before being hired as the top assistant to new Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo.
Gardenhire revealed the diagnosis following the first day of workouts for Diamondbacks pitchers and catchers.
Lovullo called the news “a bombshell.”
“This is just the first of many tests this team will face along the way this year,” the new manager said. “We just happened to get one of the biggest ones out of the way.”
Lovullo has some experience with cancer. He filled in as interim manager for Boston in 2015 while manager John Farrell was treated for lymphoma.
Gardenhire has some company in the upper reaches of Arizona’s front office.
Both owner Ken Kendrick and club President Derrick Hall are prostate cancer survivors.
Lovullo said he hasn’t decided who will replace Gardenhire during the bench coach’s absence.
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