Bullpen coach Akerfelds battling cancer

Padres coach Akerfelds battling pancreatic cancer

Bullpen coach Akerfelds battling cancer
SAN DIEGO -- Padres bullpen coach Darrel Akerfelds has been undergoing aggressive chemotherapy treatments in his battle with pancreatic cancer.

Akerfelds, 48, was diagnosed with cancer in December. He has already had five rounds of double-chemotherapy treatments, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune.

Akerfelds will still join the rest of San Diego's coaching staff in Peoria, Ariz., over the weekend for the start of Spring Training. Pitchers and catchers report on Sunday.

"Right now, I feel great because since I've started the chemotherapy, the pain I was enduing has subsided," Akerfelds told the newspaper.

"Everyone is doing everything they can right now on the medical end. I've got a great team behind me. The plan the doctors have is innovative and aggressive. I think going to Spring Training is good therapy. I need to do my job."

Akerfelds, who is scheduled to have his sixth round of chemotherapy on Tuesday, hopes to have a surgical procedure -- called the "Whipple procedure" -- that has enhanced the survival rate of pancreatic cancer patients.

"If the tumor shrinks, I will have the surgery," said Akerfelds, the Padres' bullpen coach since 2001. "But there is no date set."

Akerfelds, who said he's walking three or four times a week, said that he might need a "break from time to time" during Spring Training because of feeling weak from chemotherapy treatments.

Last year, Padres first-base coach Dave Roberts -- who was then a special assistant to the front office -- was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma. Following radiation and chemotherapy, Roberts' cancer is in remission.

Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. Keep track of @FollowThePadres on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.