SEATTLE - Seattle Mariners third-base coach Jeff Datz said Saturday he has been diagnosed with cancer and might be away from the team for part of the season.
Datz told Mariners' players during a team meeting before Saturday's game against the Los Angeles Angels and later released a written statement. Datz said he's still in the process of making decisions on treatment and he might have to miss some games.
"The good news is that it was caught very early, and I have great support from my wife, my family, Eric (Wedge), the coaches and staff, all the players and the Mariners organization," Datz wrote.
Datz said he released the statement because he doesn't want his absence to be a distraction. He declined further comment until decisions on timing and treatment have been made.
The type of cancer was not disclosed.
"He's going to beat this. We've all experienced cancer in some way, shape or form and it's something he's been dealing with, we've all been dealing with for a couple of weeks and we felt like it was the right time to announce it to the team because he is going to miss some time away from the team at some point in time," Wedge said. "He's touched a lot of people throughout the country over the years, I'm sure they're all going to reach out and give their total support.
The 53-year-old Datz is in his third season with the Mariners. He previously worked on coaching staffs with Baltimore and with Wedge during his tenure as manager in Cleveland. Wedge first got to know Datz in 1998. Wedge was getting his start as a minor league manager and Datz was working a level above in the Indians' minor-league system. He was on Wedge's staff for eight seasons in Cleveland.
As a player, Datz reached the majors only once, playing in seven games with Detroit in 1989.
"I told him, `You're going to beat it. It's as simple as that,"' Wedge said. "Everybody is going to do what they need to do to help him and then he'll be back in good shape."