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Tony Gwynn Tumor Surgery

February 15, 2012 by staff 

Tony Gwynn Tumor Surgery, Padres legend Tony Gwynn was in surgery most of the day Tuesday to remove a cancerous tumor inside his right cheek, San Diego State announced.

The surgery, conducted at UC San Diego’s Thornton Hospital, began in the morning and was ongoing into the evening, Tony’s wife, Alicia, told UT San Diego.

Gwynn, 51, who serves as head coach of the San Diego State baseball team, was first diagnosed with cancer in a salivary gland in August 2010.

Tuesday’s procedure also allowed doctors to perform biopsies on Gwynn’s parotid gland, where doctors have found two malignant tumors, one in August 2010 and the other that prompted his latest surgery.

While the result of the surgery is not yet known, ESPN sources quoted Alicia Gwynn as saying the procedure could impact his facial function due to the tumor’s proximity to his nerves. Tony Gwynn reportedly directed doctors to remove the entire tumor, even if it meant replacing nerves in his face with others from his leg or shoulder.

Gwynn is expected to miss a month of Aztecs baseball, but the school believes the timetable for his return could be shorter than that if the cancer is found to be localized. The Aztecs open their season Friday against Washington at Tony Gwynn Stadium.

The surgery was not a surprise to the baseball team or Gwynn’s coaching staff.

“We’ve known for a little bit of time that he had a little bit of a setback, and the kids are all rallied up and thinking about him when he’s not here,” said Mark Martinez, who will serve as interim coach in Gwynn’s absence. “He’s been here every day up until this day. He is going to be missed, but the kids are fine. They are thinking about him. They put together a little video for him and some cards and stuff, and they are going to take those over to him tomorrow or Thursday.”

Advance knowledge of Gwynn’s surgery and impending absence lessened the impact on his players as they prepare for the season, Martinez said. Gwynn’s presence during fall practice set up a solid foundation for the season and should help the program operate efficiently in his absence, Martinez said.

In terms of how the team will respond without its skipper for a prolonged period, Martinez said only time will tell.

“For him to be able to say ‘I’m going to take care of my health at this point in the time,’ I think the hay is in the barn as far as he is concerned,” Martinez said. “The preparation and how they are going to respond, I think he feels real comfortable about what we have done as a group up to this point.

“They know the expectations of exactly what he demands every day, and they’re going to come out and perform it. And they are going to do it because they know he is watching.”

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