New York Yankees manager Joe Torre, diagnosed last week with with prostate cancer, will have surgery Thursday and will not be with the world champions anywhere from one to three months.
Torre learned he had cancer on Wednesday and two days later went to Washington University Hospital in St. Louis for tests before returning to spring camp today. He considered multiple treatment options before deciding on surgery, which will be performed by Dr. William Katalona.
A subdued Torre refused to set a timetable for his return and, as expected, said that bench coach and close friend Don Zimmer will serve as interim manager until he returns.
"I'm not even thinking about coming back until this is over and I see how I feel," Torre said. "My priority is getting well and getting this over with."
There is speculation Torre could return within a month or could be sidelined until June. Much depends on his recuperation and prognosis following surgery.
The 58-year-old Torre considered radiation treatment before deciding on the surgery. He met with his full team today for the first time since being diagnosed.
His diagnosis rocked the World Series champions and came on the same day that outfielder Darryl Strawberry returned to the field following colon cancer surgery last October.
The 68-year-old Zimmer has spent 13 years as manager, compiling an 885-858 record with San Diego, Boston, Texas and the Chicago Cubs, last managing in 1991. He is in his 51st year in baseball.
"I'm confident that I made the right decision," Torre said. "We've learned a lot about this team."
In February, Torre signed a two-year contract extension worth a reported $2 million per season to remain manager through 2001. He is scheduled to make slightly more than $1 million in 1999.
Torre guided the Yankees to a league-record 114 wins and their second World Series title in three seasons last year. He was named American League Manager of the Year for the second time in three years after sharing the award with Johnny Oates of the Texas Rangers in 1996.
Including the postseason, New York went on to win a record 125 games overall and drew worthy comparisons to powerhouse Yankees teams of 1927 and 1961 and the Cincinnati Reds of 1975-76. The Yankees won their unprecedented 24th World Series title.
In has been a rough offseason for the Yankees. Two days before Torre revealed he has cancer, Yankees legend Joe DiMaggio died following a long battle with lung cancer. Earlier this year, Yankees Hall of Famer Catfish Hunter was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's disease.
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