Pitching coach takes break amid cancer battle

Todd Oakes was diagnosed with cancer in June.

Andrew Krammer

The Gophers baseball program will temporarily be without one of its longest-standing coaches.

Todd Oakes, Gophers pitching coach for 15 years, was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia in June. He has been temporarily relieved of his pitching coach duties while he continues to battle cancer.

Head coach John Anderson announced in a release that director of operations Lee Swenson will become an assistant coach until the program re-evaluates coaching responsibilities “based on Todd [Oakes’] health in January.”

“Todd [Oakes] is fighting a big battle and needs to focus his time getting healthy,” Anderson said in the release. “When he’s ready to return to the program, he will resume his role as our pitching coach.”

Swenson was a Gophers volunteer coach with the baseball program for 12 years before moving up to baseball operations. He’ll be entering his 15th year with the team.

Oakes’ son and former Gophers pitcher Tyler Oakes will be added as a volunteer assistant and pitching coach.

Tyler Oakes pitched for Minnesota from 2006-09 and was the pitching coach for South Dakota State from 2010-11.