Longtime Rangers coach Hector Ortiz dies of cancer at 54

Longtime Texas Rangers coach and former major leaguer Hector Ortiz died Wednesday after a prolonged battle with cancer, the club announced. He was 54.

Ortiz had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2020, but he remained on the minor league development staff for the past three years. He was a member of the major league staff from 2015-20 under former managers Jeff Banister and Chris Woodward. His roles included first-base coach, bullpen coach and catching coordinator.

The club said he was being treated at the Mayo Clinic in Phoenix, near the Rangers’ spring training home in Surprise, Ariz.

“Mr. Ortiz was a beloved member of the Texas Rangers organization who had an enormous impact as a teacher of the game, a mentor to players and staff, and a loyal friend to so many,” the Rangers said in a statement. “He brought a positive attitude and spirit to the ballpark each and every day, and his influence on the Rangers’ baseball operations department will not soon be forgotten.

Ortiz also coached in the Rangers’ minor league system and in the Puerto Rican Winter League.

A native of Puerto Rico, Ortiz was a catcher over parts of three seasons for the Kansas City Royals (1998, 2000-01) and Rangers (2022). He batted .288 with a .339 on-base percentage, .358 slugging percentage, one home run and 18 RBIs in 260 at-bats over 93 games.

The Los Angeles Dodgers selected Ortiz in the 35th round of the 1988 MLB Draft out of Ranger and Paris junior colleges in Texas.

The Rangers were set to observe a moment of silence for Ortiz before Thursday’s spring training game against the Milwaukee Brewers at Surprise Stadium.