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03/22/08 1:04 PM ET

Nettles diagnosed with prostate cancer

Former Yankees third baseman to have surgery on April 8

TAMPA, Fla. -- When Graig Nettles learned he had been diagnosed with prostate cancer, one of the first telephone calls he made was to former Yankees manager Joe Torre.

The current Dodgers skipper went through his own prostate cancer scare in 1999, diagnosed as part of a routine checkup. Torre underwent treatment and has had no related issues since, and the 63-year-old Nettles -- awaiting surgery in early April -- is keeping his spirits high.

"He's pretty upbeat about it after what he's gone through," Nettles said. "I hope I have the same fortune that he had."

Nettles, a six-time All-Star third baseman, is scheduled to have surgery on April 8 at Sloan Kettering Hospital in New York. He was diagnosed the day before Thanksgiving last year, shortly after his brother, Jim, had also discovered his own prostate cancer.

Nettles said he was spurred to have his prostate checked by his brother, Jim, who informed the Gold Glover that cancer ran in the family.

"They told me they got it early, and it's curable and treatable," Nettles said. "I've just got to think positive."

Told that there was no immediate urgency to have the surgery, Nettles decided to accept the Yankees' invitation of attending Spring Training as a guest instructor. Despite his pending physical procedure, Nettles said he believed an extended visit to camp had been beneficial for his peace of mind.

"I always thought there would be an urgency in getting it out of your body, but they seem to think it wouldn't matter for a couple months," Nettles said. "So I told them I wanted to go to Spring Training.

"I would have gone crazy being laid up at home."

Nettles spent 10 years of his 22-year Major League career in pinstripes, reaching the playoffs with the Twins, Yankees and Padres. A .248 career hitter, Nettles hit 390 home runs and drove in 1,314 runs in 2,700 big league games.

One of the best defensive third basemen of his era, Nettles had one of his most memorable performances in Game 3 of the 1978 World Series against the Dodgers at Yankee Stadium, making several diving plays and helping the Yankees secure the championship in six games.

It has been a rough spring for the club's special coaches -- Stump Merrill was hit in the face with a thrown ball, while Billy Connors and Frank Howard have both been hospitalized and released after various ailments.

YES Network broadcaster and former All-Star outfielder Bobby Murcer also endured a scare, but a biopsy revealed no recurrence of a brain tumor that required a surgical procedure in December 2006.

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.