Mets minor-league pitching coach Frank Viola to undergo heart surgery

Frank Viola signs autographs on Friday Feb. 21,

Frank Viola signs autographs on Friday Feb. 21, 2014 during spring training in Port St. Lucie, Fla. (Credit: Newsday / Alejandra Villa)

VIERA, Fla. - Mets Triple-A pitching coach Frank Viola will undergo heart surgery in New York this week, his family confirmed in a statement released through the club.

Physicians discovered a heart condition when Viola, 53, recently underwent his spring training physical. Doctors recommended surgery for Viola, the East Meadow High School product who once won 20 games for the Mets and claimed the 1988 American League Cy Young Award.

He spent the past three seasons as the pitching coach for Class-A Savannah, where he earned praise for helping to develop pitching prospects such as Noah Syndergaard. Mets lefthanded pitching prospect Steven Matz, a fellow Long Island native, praised Viola's ability to communicate.

The Mets took notice, promoting Viola to Triple-A Las Vegas. But off the field, Viola has endured a difficult spring. His parents passed away within a 26-day span. He lost his father, Frank Sr., 86, on Feb. 11 and his mother, Helen, 85, died on March 9.

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