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Former Twin Viola faces heart surgery

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sports Willmar, 56201
Willmar Minnesota 2208 Trott Ave. SW / P.O. Box 839 56201

Former major-league pitcher Frank Viola is scheduled to undergo open-heart surgery next week that will keep him from serving as a Triple-A pitching coach for the New York Mets this season.

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The 53-year-old Viola, who won the American League Cy Young Award in 1988 when he posted a 24-7 record for the Minnesota Twins, was diagnosed with a heart condition after a physical during spring training. ESPNNewYork.com reported Tuesday.

After working as a Class A pitching coach for the past three seasons in the Mets' organization, he was to move up to triple-A Las Vegas in the Pacific Coast League this year to work with some of New York's top prospects. Ron Romanick is expected to take his place.

Viola's three-year pitching stint with the Mets included a 20-win season in 1990. In eight years with the Twins, Viola logged 112 of his 176 career regular-season victories. The three-time All-Star's career highlights include being named World Series MVP in 1987 .

Viola retired as a pitcher at age 36 after six games with the Toronto Blue Jays in the 1996 season.

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