Hall-of-Fame right fielder and current San Diego State head baseball coach Tony Gwynn is taking a leave of absence from the team as he receives cancer treatment.
An official from the school's athletic department, via FOX 5 News' Troy Hirsch, said that the 53-year-old Gwynn, who receives treatment every Monday, has been away from the team for about four weeks and there is no current estimate as to when he'll return.
Gwynn previously missed time with the team in 2012 to remove a tumor in his cheek, and two years previous to that, he had lymph nodes removed after being diagnosed with cancer of a salivary gland.
Fortunately, Gwynn, who turns 54 in early May, sounded positive about his health when talking to the U-T San Diego's Kirk Kenney:
I have no comment, other than to say I’m doing good. That’s all I can say.
But nobody believes me because there hasn’t been any information out there. But, trust me, I’m doing good.
He was a little less certain about returning to the Aztecs dugout, though:
That I don’t know. That’s the truth. I don’t know. I know I’ll be back to talk to the team. I just don’t know if I’ll be back coaching. I don’t know.
I’d like to be there. The team’s playing too well this year to not be a part of this. I would like to be a part of it. I just don’t know. We’ll see.
Gwynn is a legend in San Diego and in the baseball world.
Known as one of the most consistent hitters of all-time, he hit .338 in 20 seasons with the Padres, racking up 3,141 hits and eight NL batting titles. There is a street outside of PETCO named after him, a statue in his likeness outside the stadium and the Aztecs play their home games in Tony Gwynn Stadium.
In his 12th season coaching his alma mater, Gwynn is an important part to the team's success, but it's safe to say that he can take as long as he needs away from the diamond as long as it helps to ensure a clean bill of health.
During his absence, Mark Martinez will serve as the interim head coach for the 28-12 Aztecs, who are just outside the Top 25 nationally.