VIERA, Fla. -- Mets Triple-A pitching coach Frank Viola will undergo open-heart surgery next week, according to the team, and will not be able to fulfill his duties for the Las Vegas 51s.
According to a statement released by the Mets on Tuesday evening, "Frank Viola underwent a recent medical examination during Spring Training. Mets physicians discovered a heart condition that needed to be corrected as soon as possible. Frank will undergo surgery next week in New York. The family welcomes all prayers but requests privacy during this time."
Viola, 53, was entering his first year as the Mets' Triple-A pitching coach, after spending last summer in the same role at Class A Savannah. The Mets had intended for Viola to serve as a mentor for Noah Syndergaard, Rafael Montero and many of the organization's other top prospects.
The team has not yet announced a replacement. ESPN New York, which first publicized the news of Viola's surgery, reported that former Minor League pitching coordinator Ron Romanick would fill that role.
A former 20-game winner for the Mets and Cy Young Award winner with the Twins, Viola was 176-150 over a career spanning 15 years and five big league teams. His best year came in 1990, when he led the National League in innings pitched (249 2/3) and finished 20-12 with a 2.67 ERA.
Earlier this year, Viola's mother and father passed away within one month of each other.
Viola's son, Frank III, recently signed a Minor League contract with the Blue Jays as a knuckleballer. His daughter, Brittany, competed as a platform diver in the 2012 London Olympics.