TAMPA, Fla. - Yankees trainer Gene Monahan, a popular clubhouse and dugout presence in the organization for nearly half a century, will miss spring training and possibly the start of the regular season to deal with "a significant illness,'' the team announced Sunday morning. The illness was not disclosed.
The club said Monahan, 65 - the longest-tenured athletic trainer in the major leagues, having joined the Yankees as head trainer in 1973 - will remain in New York to receive "extensive treatment'' during the next several weeks.
Monahan had been at spring training the previous 48 years. "I miss not being around my professional family already, but I'm battling," he said in a statement released by the team.
"The New York Yankees have gone above and beyond in this most difficult time," he added. "I couldn't do this alone, but with the support and love of my immediate family, my family within our organization and the dedication and expertise of many fine doctors, I look forward to resuming my role with the team this season."
Steve Donohue, who became Monahan's assistant with the Yankees in 1986, will serve as head trainer in his absence. Donohue began working for the organization in 1979.
Monahan - "Geno" to players and just about everyone else in the organization - was a batboy and clubhouse attendant for the Yankees in his senior year of high school in Fort Lauderdale in 1962 and began his training career in 1963 with the Yankees' Class D Fort Lauderdale affiliate.
He was inducted into the New York State Athletic Trainers Association Hall of Fame in 2007 and received the National Athletic Trainers Association Distinguished Athletic Trainer Award last season.
Yankees pitchers and catchers are scheduled to report Wednesday.