WASHINGTON (AP) Washington Nationals owner Mark Lerner said Thursday night in a letter to a Washington Post columnist that he had cancer and had his left leg amputated.
In the letter to columnist Barry Svrluga, the 63-year-old Lerner wrote:
''Thanks very much for your concern and good wishes. I know you recognize that only something really challenging would have kept me from my favorite seat at the ballpark these past months. In early January, they discovered Spindle Cell Sarcoma in my left leg above the knee. Radiation was completed in March and I had surgery in April to successfully remove the cancer. The radiation treatment eventually caused the wound not to heal properly.
''With my doctors and medical team, we decided that amputation of that leg was my best choice to maintain the active and busy lifestyle that I have always enjoyed. The limb was removed in early August and I'm healing well, cancer-free, and looking forward to my eventual new prosthetic.
''I've been very blessed with my wonderful wife Judy, who has never left my side, our great kids, amazing family and close friends. I really appreciate everyone respecting our family's privacy as we've gone through this. I'm not sure of the timeline yet, but you know I'll be at Nationals Park as soon as I possibly can. Hope all is well with you.''
Lerner's family purchased the Nationals from Major League Baseball in 2006.
General manager Mike Rizzo called a team meeting before Thursday night's game at San Diego to give an update on Lerner.
''It came as a shock to all of us,'' manager Dusty Baker said.
''We kind of knew something was going on,'' said Ryan Zimmerman, who hit a go-ahead homer in a 2-1 win. ''Anytime you hear that about anyone it's tough, especially someone like Mark. He's around all the time. He's not only an owner, but he's a huge fan of D.C. baseball. I know it's probably killing him more than anyone to not be able to be around. I think the news is good news, for the most part. It's obviously going to be tough for him and we'll be here to support him with anything he needs.''