Aikens takes leave to be with ailing wife

Aikens takes leave to be with ailing wife

Aikens takes leave to be with ailing wife
KANSAS CITY -- Just after good news came bad news for the Royals' Willie Aikens.

His wife, Sara, 42, suffered a stroke on Wednesday and was hospitalized in Kansas City. That will delay the start of Aikens' new job with the Royals.

Aikens was hired two weeks ago as a Minor League coach by the Royals, the latest step in his comeback from drug use and a 14-year prison term for cocaine distribution.

His baseball career as a slugging first baseman included a big 1980 World Series for the Royals in which he belted four home runs. But he was jailed for 81 days in 1983 as part of a drug scandal, and his Major League career ended in 1985.

Royals general manager Dayton Moore planned to use Aikens in the Royals' Minor League camp at Surprise, Ariz., as a hitting instructor as well as a counselor to young players, drawing on his background. Now that assignment is on hold as Aikens tends to his wife.

"Obviously the most important thing for him right now is his family," Moore said. "That's what he's focused on, as he should, and baseball will be there when he can be there."

Aikens was in Surprise for the Royals Fantasy Camp when he got word from his mother-in-law about his wife's collapse. He immediately flew home to be with her.

"I was eager to go to Spring Training, but I talked to Dayton and he told me not to even worry about that, to take care of business at home," Aikens said. "And it's so great to have somebody behind you like that."

Aikens said that out-of-town family members were expected to arrive in Kansas City to provide support.

"I'll be there for her," he said. "She was there for me all the time I was incarcerated. She stayed behind me so I'm not going anywhere."

They were married just three months ago.

"Everything is in God's hands right now," Aikens said.

Dick Kaegel is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.