Just before batting practice today, the Mariners held a 10-minute, closed door meeting in which third base coach Jeff Datz stepped to the front of the room and delivered the news that he has been diagnosed with cancer. Datz will stay with the team for now and is out throwing batting practice as I type this.
He released a statement to the media that did not identify the form of cancer.
Here is what the statement says:
“Prior to today’s, game, Eric Wedge and myself met with the team so I could inform them I have been diagnosed with cancer. I wanted to let all of you know as well. The good news is, it was caught bery early and I have great support from my wife, my family, Eric, the coaches and staff, all the players and the Mariners organization.
I am still in the process of making some treatment decisions, but it is very possible I may have to miss some games. I do not want my absence to be a distraction to the team, which is why I am letting everyone know my situation now. Having said that, I am not yet ready to speak about this with the media.
Once decisions on timing and treatment have been made, I’ll be happy to talk to all of you at once. Until then, I would appreciate your patience as we all focus on baseball. Thank you.”
Datz has battled skin cancer before, having first been diagnosed in 1989. I was told by a team official that this form of cancer is not the same.
Here is an item from spring training two years ago in which colleague Bob Condotta, who was filling in at the time, penned a profile on Datz.
Mariners manager Wedge spoke to reporters after the team meeting broke up. He has coached alongside Datz since 1998, when they broke in together in the Indians’ minor league system.
“He’s going to beat this,” Wedge said. “We’ve all experienced cancer in some way, shape of form. It’s something he’s been dealing with, we’ve all (coaches) been dealing with for a couple of weeks and he felt like it was the right time to announce it to the team, because he is going to miss some time with the team at some point in time and of course release it (to the public).
“He’s touched a lot of people throughout the country over the years. I’m sure they’re going to all reach out to him and give him their total support. So, like I told him. I said ‘You’re going to beat it. It’s as simple as that, so everybody’s going to do what they need to do to help him and then he’ll be back in good shape,”