Rangers coach Hector Ortiz dies at 54 after long battle with cancer

Texas Rangers first base coach Hector Ortiz (4) walks through the dugout talking with players during a baseball game against the Los Angeles Angels on Sunday, Sept. 3, 2017, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

PHOENIX — Hector Ortiz, who spent the past 18 years as a manager and coach in the Texas Rangers organization, died Wednesday after a long battle with cancer. He was 54.

The Rangers said Ortiz died at the Mayo Clinic in Phoenix, not far from the club’s spring training home in the suburb of Surprise.

Ortiz was a coach on the minor league player development staff for the past three years after serving on the major league staff under two previous managers, Jeff Banister and Chris Woodward.

Ortiz spent four seasons as the first base coach and one each as a bullpen coach and catching coordinator. He also managed and coached in the Rangers’ minor league system and was a manager for several years in the Puerto Rican Winter League.

The former catcher played 18 professional seasons from 1988-2005, appearing in 93 major league games with Kansas City and seven with the Rangers. Ortiz was drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1988.

Ortiz’s three-year cancer battle inspired Rangers coach Bobby Wilson to design a blue hoodie with a Texas-inspired catcher’s mask and “Hector Strong” on the sleeve. Proceeds from sales have supported families dealing with cancer.

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