04/27/2013 11:07 PM ET
Mariners' Datz reveals battle with cancer
By Bob Sherwin / Special to MLB.com
SEATTLE -- Mariners third-base coach Jeff Datz informed the team and the players on Saturday that he has cancer.
Datz and manager Eric Wedge held a five-minute, closed-door meeting before the Angels-Mariners game Saturday to tell the players. Datz did not disclose the nature of the cancer and did not want to publicly address the issue but released a statement:
"Prior to today's game, Eric Wedge and I met with the team so I could inform them that I have been diagnosed with cancer.
"I wanted to let you all know, as well.
"The good news is that it was caught very early, and I have great support from my wife, my family, Eric, the coaches and staff, all the players and the Mariners organization.
"I am still in the process of making some treatment decisions, but it is very possible I may have to miss some games. I do not want my absence to be a distraction to the team, which is why I am letting everyone know my situation now. Having said that, I am not ready to speak about this with the media.
"Once decisions on timing and treatment have been made, I'll be happy to talk to all of you at once. Until then, I would appreciate your patience as we all focus on baseball."
Wedge has known Datz since the two were managers in the Cleveland Indians' Minor League system in 1998. When Wedge was named the Indians manager in 2003, he brought in Datz as his third-base coach. Datz later served as the team's bench coach under Wedge from 2007-09.
"He's going to beat this. We've all experienced cancer in some way, shape or form," Wedge said. "We've been dealing with this for a couple weeks, but we feel it's the right time to announce it to the team because he is going to miss some time away from the team at some point in time."
Datz, 53, who has been the Mariners' third-base coach for the past three seasons, began his professional career in 1982 in the Houston organization. He reached the Majors briefly with Detroit in 1989.
He began coaching in the Cleveland system in 1993. He spent 2002-09 as coach with the Indians and was bench coach for Baltimore in 2010 before joining the Mariners.
"He's touched a lot of people throughout the country over the years," Wedge said. "I'm sure they're going to reach out and give him their total support. As I told him, 'You're going to beat it.' It's as simple as that. So everyone's going to do what they need to do to help him."
Wedge letting shortstop situation play out
SEATTLE -- There are dynamics at work for the Mariners, as Brendan Ryan has been given time off to work on his hitting and, subsequently, Robert Andino has taken over as regular shortstop.
Ryan was back in the lineup on Saturday, but manager Eric Wedge, however, said it's not something "we need to put a label on."
"I'm just giving Andino a day [off]. He's played a few days in a row." Wedge said. "I think it's been good for him. He's starting to find it a little bit."
During a road trip in Houston earlier this week, Wedge said Andino would be the regular at short so Ryan could concentrate on his offensive woes. Ryan was batting just .155 heading into Saturday's Angels-Mariners game.
"I thought Brendan had a good game [Friday]. He had the base hit. He did a good job on the safety squeeze," Wedge said. "Regardless of what has been written, I didn't bench him. I just said to him, Andino is going to play more. We're going to take it day to day, week to week, month to month and see what happens.
"It gives Brendan a chance to work on his craft without playing as much. It gives Robert a chance to get going out there. If Robert takes it and runs with it, so be it. Robert is just going to play more right now, and we'll get Brendan in there when we can and let him to continue to work on his game."
Clearly, Wedge wants to see a better approach for Ryan, who struggled with just a .194 average last season. Ryan plays extraordinary defense, one of the best gloves in the game, but Wedge wants more contributions from the plate.
"It's up to him. He's 30 years old," Wedge added. "I believe in him. I like him. I believe he's a championship player. He has to go out there and perform better offensively and has to work his emotions in a better direction to help him do that."
Andino has not shown dramatically better results. He's a career .235 hitter who hit .200 last season for Baltimore and currently sitting at .200.
Saunders targeted for Monday return
SEATTLE -- Mariners outfielder Michael Saunders is on a rehab assignment with Triple-A Tacoma in his recovery from a sprained right shoulder.
So what happened in his first game against Las Vegas?
"Ironically enough, he gets hit in the right shoulder with a pitch," Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. "That pretty sums up where we are right now."
The club hopes that Saunders can return to the team on Monday.
"I think we still have a chance for Monday," Wedge said. "We'll have to see. The big thing will be tomorrow when he plays the field."
The Mariners have had a series of injuries, to the outfielders in particular, that have affected their season rhythm. Saunders has not played since April 9. Center fielder Franklin Gutierrez went on the disabled list on Tuesday with a strained right hamstring. Outfielder Michael Morse is playing with a broken right little finger.
In addition, right-hander Stephen Pryor, who had not allowed a run in seven relief appearances, was placed on the DL on April 15 with a tear in his right lat muscle.
Struggling Ibanez returns to lineup
SEATTLE -- Mariners outfielder/designated hitter Raul Ibanez, who missed the past two games to focus on his stroke, was back in the lineup Saturday.
Ibanez entered the game mired in an 0-for-13 (and 1-for-23) skid.
"I had this day pinpointed, looking at the matchup, the time, and giving him some time to do it," Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. "I want to get him in there as the DH and focus on that.
"Raul is just a good player. We all know what kind of individual he is, but as a player, we saw that this spring. I'm just trying to put him into a position to succeed and see where it goes."
Bob Sherwin is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.