SAN DIEGO (CNS) - San Diego Padres bullpen coach Darrel Akerfelds died Sunday after a long battle with pancreatic cancer, team officials said.
Akerfelds, who turned 50 on June 12, died this morning at a Phoenix cancer treatment center after a 19-month fight with the disease.
"The San Diego Padres are deeply saddened by the loss of bullpen coach Darrel Akerfelds," Padres manager Bud Black said. "Ak was an invaluable member of the Padres coaching staff.
"He brought a tireless work ethic and compassion for baseball to the ballpark every day," Black said. "He was a loyal Padre to the end. Players and coaches were made better by Ak. He will be sorely missed, and what he brought to this organization will never be forgotten."
Padres Executive Vice President/General Manager Josh Byrnes said he was amazed at the universal love and respect within the organization for Akerfelds.
"His passion, toughness and knowledge will leave an important legacy for the Padres," Byrnes said. "Throughout the organization, he will be missed."
The former major league pitcher was drafted by the Seattle Mariners in 1983 and made his major league debut with the Oakland Athletics. He went on to play for the Cleveland Indians, the Texas Rangers and the Philadelphia Phillies.
Akerfelds joined the Padres coaching staff at a Single-A team in 1997. Padres bullpen coach since 2001, Akerfelds remained with the team in the 2011 season, despite treatments that followed his 2010 diagnosis.
"Ak was as much a Padre as anyone who ever wore the uniform, spending 16 years in the organization," Padres president and COO Tom Garfinkel said.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and the many people who were lucky enough to know him."