Angels suddenly without their hitting coach

ANAHEIM, Calif. — Don Baylor is a survivor. Multiple myeloma, a cancer that affects the bones, struck Baylor some 11 years ago.

According to Mayoclinic.org, multiple myeloma is a cancer of your plasma cells, which is a type of white blood cell present in your bone marrow.

The cancer can affect the bones and the immune system. Sixty two months or just over five years is the average survival rate for a person with multiple myeloma. Baylor was diagnosed in 2003.

On Monday came a different setback. The 64-year-old Baylor, now a hitting coach with Angels, left Monday’s opener against the Mariners with a fractured right femur. He is expected to undergo surgery Tuesday. In a freak incident, Baylor was squatting behind home plate to receive the ceremonial first pitch from 2004 American League MVP with the Angels, Vladimir Guerrero.

It what was supposed to be a joyous occasion with Guerrero back to sign a one-day contract and retire as an Angel. It quickly turned sour as Baylor was injured during the first pitch and leaving members of the Angels feeling terribly for their coach.

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"It got me sick when I was warming up seeing that and then hearing what happened in the dugout," Angels center fielder Mike Trout said. "I just hope and wish for the best."

Added second baseman Howie Kendrick: "I’ve seen people break bones before but as far as in that type of manner I haven’t really seen anything in that fashion."

Baylor had to be helped to his feet by Guerrero and helped off of the field by members of the Angels training staff. Baylor was taken to UCI Medical Center where it was learned he fractured his femur.

The femur or thighbone is the strongest bone in the body, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Their website states much force is usually required to break it.

"Car crashes, for example, are the number one cause of femur fractures," the site reads.

It is unknown if Baylor fracturing his femur Monday night is related to multiple myeloma.

Major League Baseball rules prohibit members of the team training and medical staffs from speaking on the injury.

Going forward, on the field, the Angels could be without their hitting coach for an extended period of time. Recovery time is 4-6 months for a broken femur.

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In the meantime, assistant hitting coach Dave Hansen, who’s in his first season on the staff, will assume a much larger role.  

"I’m sure we’re going to have some things to talk about when we get some information on exactly what’s going on with Don," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said.

After jumping out to a 2-0 lead, the Angels eventually dropped the opener 10-3 to Seattle. However, the loss Baylor for what appears to be a significant period of time could be more costly.

"It kind of sucks for us as a team because it’s our hitting coach," Kendrick said. "He’s a big influence here and you never want to see anybody go through something like that.

"He’s a big part of our team and he has a lot of respect from the guys here. We definitely enjoy working with him in the cage. I think the biggest thing now is to put out prayers for him and his family."