By Gerry Fraley
February 22, 2006
Rudy Jaramillo, named Baseball America’s Major League Coach of the Year in 2005 for his work with Texas’ hitters, is expected to miss a portion of the coming season because of prostate cancer.
Jaramillo, 55, expects to have surgery in early March, at a facility to be determined. His return date is uncertain, but the usual time of recovery is four to six weeks.
Jaramillo vowed to return by Opening Day: April 3 against Boston. Rangers general manager Jon Daniels told Jaramillo to take as much time as needed to deal with the condition.
“His health is more important,” Daniels said.
At least two major league managers–Joe Torre of the Yankees and Dusty Baker of the Cubs–have overcome prostate cancer in recent years. Torre’s condition was uncovered during a routine examination in March 1999, and Don Zimmer took over the team. Torre returned to the Yankees in mid-May.
Lee Elia was Seattle’s hitting coach in 1997 when he was found to have prostate cancer. Elia was out of uniform for the next two years after surgery and recovery, but the temporary move to a scouting position was also driven by a desire to spend more time with his family.
Jaramillo has had regular prostate examinations since 1993, when he was with the Astros. The first biopsy after an examination in January came back negative. The second result was positive.
“This is part of life, something that happens,” Jaramillo said. “I’m going to be fine.
“I have a lot of faith. That’s why I’m not scared.”
Jaramillo tried to downplay the situation as much as possible so as not to disrupt the rhythm of spring training. He broke the news to his hitters in a morning meeting, fittingly conducted in the batting cages at the Rangers’ facility in Surprise, Ariz.
“I wanted to get it out of the way because there are a lot of important things we need to do,” Jaramillo said.
Said third baseman Hank Blalock: “He sounded like it’s just going to be a little bump in the road. Hopefully, that’s the case.”
Jaramillo has been the Rangers’ hitting coach since 1995, going through three general managers and three field managers. In that span, the Rangers have ranked among the American League’s top five in runs, homers and batting average.
The Rangers have also had a pair of MVPs (Juan Gonzalez and Ivan Rodriguez) and the 2005 batting champion (Michael Young) during Jaramillo’s tenure.
During Jaramillo’s absence, Brook Jacoby will serve as hitting coach. As a minor league instructor for the last three years, Jacoby has worked with Jaramillo. Jacoby was the roving hitting coordinator last season and implemented Jaramillo’s philosophy throughout the organization.
“They’re going to hear the same language, do a lot of the same drills,” Jacoby said. “It makes the transition a little easier.”