ATLANTA — Ron Darling is taking a leave of absence from SNY’s Mets booth for health reasons, the former major-league pitcher announced Saturday night. He said he will have surgery next week to remove “a large mass in my chest.”
“My health is the top priority right now for my family and I,” Darling said in a statement released by SNY. “I’m looking forward to being back in the booth with our crew and my friends Gary and Keith as soon as I can.”
Darling said during the telecast of the Mets-Braves game that he hasn’t been feeling well for the past couple of months, hence the tests. If there are no complications, doctors told him to expect to be back in the booth sometime in May, he said.
“I'll kick its you-know-what,” Darling said on air with play-by-play voice Gary Cohen, adding a lighthearted barb at booth mate Keith Hernandez. “I'm really reporting this for Keith to know he's going to have to do some extra games.”
Fred and Jeff Wilpon said in a statement from the Mets: “Our thoughts and prayers continuously remain with Ron for a full recovery and we look forward to seeing him back in the broadcast booth soon.”
SNY studio analyst/former Met Todd Zeile will fill in for Darling while he’s out.
Darling also is being sued by 1986 Mets teammate Lenny Dykstra over a passage in his new book, “108 Stitches: Loose Threads, Ripping Yarns, and the Darndest Characters from My Time in the Game.” Darling called Dykstra “one of baseball’s all-time thugs” and said Dykstra shouted racist insults at Red Sox pitcher Oil Can Boyd before Game 3 of the 1986 World Series. Dykstra said in the lawsuit that that never happened.