Oklahoma City RedHawks manager Tony DeFrancesco has been diagnosed with cancer, the Astros announced Sunday.
DeFrancesco, who turns 51 on April 24, was diagnosed earlier this month at Spring Training and is undergoing treatment at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. The process is expected to last five or six weeks.
Doctors have indicated the cancer was detected early and are optimistic DeFrancesco will make a full recovery, the team said. He was referred to a specialist after discussing symptoms he was experiencing while undergoing a physical with the rest of the Astros' staff.
"I am overwhelmed and truly grateful by the support of family, friends and everyone associated with the Houston Astros organization," DeFrancesco said in a statement. "I am very confident in my medical team at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. I am optimistic for 100 percent recovery. My wife, Adriene, and I would like to thank everyone for their phone calls and prayers."
One of the most successful managers in the Minor Leagues over the past two decades, DeFrancesco was set to begin his fourth season with the RedHawks. Oklahoma City boasted the Pacific Coast League's best record (82-62) last year, capturing the American Southern Division title before losing to Omaha in the opening round of the playoffs.
DeFrancesco spent 14 seasons as a manager in the A's system, guiding Triple-A Sacramento to three PCL championships from 2003-07. He also compiled a 16-25 record as the Astros' interim manager at the end of the 2012 season.
"Tony has handled this situation admirably," Astros director of player development Quinton McCracken said. "Tony has done a tremendous job with our players and is a credit to our organization. We know he'll tackle this and we look forward to his return to OKC."
Former Major Leaguer Tom Lawless, who served as DeFrancesco's infield coach last season, will serve as the RedHawks' interim manager.
"We were obviously very saddened to hear the news about Tony, and our thoughts are with him and his family during this tough time," RedHawks president/general manager Michael Byrnes said. "Tony has been a great leader and a wonderful representative for the team on and off the field. If he approaches this hurdle the same way he approaches his job, I'm confident he will be able to overcome it and rejoin the team whenever he feels he's ready."