San Diego Padres third base coach Matt Williams has colon cancer and will have surgery on Friday.
Mike Shildt, the former St. Louis Cardinals manager who is a senior adviser with the Padres, will fill in as third base coach beginning Thursday, when the most eagerly anticipated season in franchise history begins with a home game against the Colorado Rockies.
Williams, a five-time All-Star in a 17-year career spent mostly with the San Francisco Giants, said he was diagnosed about three weeks ago.
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“I don't have any symptoms, I don't have any issues, but at this point it's important that we get it out of there,” Williams said Wednesday.
Williams, 57, said initial scans show that the cancer hasn't spread. “That's a good thing, so we'll see how it goes from here. ... I'll do what I can and fight as hard as I can to get back as quickly as possible."
Williams played 10 seasons with San Francisco, one with Cleveland and six with Arizona, including 2001 when the Diamondbacks won the World Series. He won four Gold Glove Awards and four Silver Slugger Awards.
Williams managed the Washington Nationals for two seasons and was the NL Manager of the Year in 2014. He was manager Bob Melvin's third base coach in Oakland in 2018-19 and joined Melvin's Padres staff last season.
“I've been with Matt on five different teams, I've known him for over 35 years and he might be the toughest guy I've ever come across in baseball,” Melvin said. “I know in particular he's going to give this the fiercest effort of his life and he's going to beat it. Our players have been fully supportive of him. It's hard being so close to somebody and knowing he has to deal with it but I know he is and I know he's going to beat it.”