Rangers hitting coach Jaramillo has prostate cancer

Updated: February 18, 2006, 9:54 PM ET
Associated Press

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Texas Rangers hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo said Saturday he has prostate cancer but plans to be in the dugout on opening day.

Jaramillo, 55, said he will remain with the team until he has surgery later in spring training. He said he will decide in about a week when to have surgery.

"Some things happen, and this will make me mentally stronger," Jaramillo said. "I've always had a lot of faith in God and am a positive person. This will make me appreciate each day even more. Baseball is my passion, and I want to get back to these kids as soon as I can."

Going into his 12th season, Jaramillo is the only coach in Rangers history to serve more than eight years on the major league staff.

Under Jaramillo, the Rangers have remained one of the most potent offenses in baseball. They were on a record home run pace until late in the 2005 season despite losing power hitters Juan Gonzalez, Ivan Rodriguez, Alex Rodriguez and Rafael Palmeiro over the last several years.

"This is unfortunate, but with his attitude, this should be no big deal," third baseman Hank Blalock said. "We all just want him to get well and get back to the team when he can."

Jaramillo was a candidate to become New York Mets manager before Willie Randolph was hired after the 2004 season. Jaramillo ended up signing a three-year contract with the Rangers.

"We're going to let Rudy decide the way he wants to handle this," manager Buck Showalter said. "We'll be there for him. He's a strong man."

Jaramillo said the discovery was made about three weeks ago during his regular six-month checkup. Since previous checkups were clear, Jaramillo said the chances of early detection were good.

Longtime Rangers scout Mel Didier, 79, is a prostate cancer survivor. He said Jaramillo could return a week after surgery.

"It just depends what they find when they get in there, but if they catch it early, the doctors can do wonders," said Didier, who tours the country to speak about prostate cancer. "They told me I would be lucky if I got five years, maybe seven. It's been 12 now. Doctors are good, but they don't know everything."

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press