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Lerner has leg amputated, now cancer free

Nationals players, coaches learn of condition of principal owner
MLB.com

SAN DIEGO -- Washington players and coaches learned Thursday that Nationals principal owner Mark Lerner had his left leg amputated after efforts to remove cancer in the leg.

Lerner, 63, wrote in a letter to The Washington Post that he learned in January he had spindle cell sarcoma above his left knee. He completed radiation in March and underwent surgery in April, but "the radiation treatment eventually caused the wound not to heal properly," Lerner wrote.

SAN DIEGO -- Washington players and coaches learned Thursday that Nationals principal owner Mark Lerner had his left leg amputated after efforts to remove cancer in the leg.

Lerner, 63, wrote in a letter to The Washington Post that he learned in January he had spindle cell sarcoma above his left knee. He completed radiation in March and underwent surgery in April, but "the radiation treatment eventually caused the wound not to heal properly," Lerner wrote.

Lerner had his leg removed earlier this month and is "healing well, cancer-free and looking forward to my eventual new prosthetic."

Before Thursday's 2-1 win over the Padres, general manager Mike Rizzo met with the team to inform them of Lerner's situation, manager Dusty Baker said.

"It came as a shock to all of us," Baker said. " I remember we saw Mark about a month ago, and he just said he was going to be all right. We didn't have any idea what he was going through, because we just thought that he had had an infection in his knee. I've had a couple friends go through the same thing.

"Mark has a great attitude about life, and we just wish him well and the family well. We'd certainly like to win this for him."

Lerner's father, Ted, is the Nationals' managing principal owner. The family took control of the franchise in 2006. That's the same year first baseman Ryan Zimmerman, who hit a go-ahead home run Thursday, finished second in National League Rookie of the Year voting in the team's second year in D.C. after a move from Montreal.

"Any time you hear that about anyone, it's tough, especially someone like Mark," Zimmerman said. "He's around all the time. He's not only a owner, but a huge fan of D.C. baseball and the team. 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 and help him with anything he needs.

"I'm sure he'll work as hard as he can to make it back. We miss him, and we're thinking about him."

Nathan Ruiz is a reporter for MLB.com based in San Diego and covered the Nationals on Thursday.

Washington Nationals