Hall of Fame slugger

Harmon Killebrew

has been diagnosed with esophageal cancer.

The 74-year-old Killebrew released a statement through the Minnesota Twins yesterday, saying he expects to make a full recovery from the "very serious" condition.

"With my wife, Nita, by my side, I have begun preparing for what is perhaps the most difficult battle of my life," Killebrew said.

Killebrew hit 573 home runs and made 11 All-Star appearances during his 22-year career spent mostly with the Washington Senators and Twins. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1984 and was fifth on the career home run list when he retired in 1975 after one season with the Kansas City Royals.

Killebrew currently ranks 11th on the all-time homer list, and his eight seasons with 40 or more homers still is tied for second in league history to Babe Ruth.

Killebrew has maintained a regular presence with the Twins for years. He lives in the Phoenix area and said he is receiving treatment at a branch of the Mayo Clinic nearby. He was optimistic about his chances for recovery.

"The Mayo Clinic is one of the largest and most experienced medical centers treating esophageal cancer in the world. In the past decade, they have made tremendous advances in the treatment of this disease," Killebrew said. "Nita and I feel blessed to have access to the best doctors and medical care."

In other baseball news:

* Seattle closer David Aardsma will have surgery Monday to repair a torn labrum in his left hip. He is expected to be ready for the start of the season.

* The Detroit Tigers say former major league manager Steve Boros died Wednesday in Deland, Fla. He was 74. The team said it didn't have any other details on his death. Boros managed the Oakland Athletics and San Diego Padres. He spent the last 9 years in the Tigers organization.

* Composite bats will no longer be used in the Little League World Series. Composite bats have metal shells enclosing woven fibers inside the barrels. Critics say the bats endanger youngsters because balls fly off them at high speeds and can injure fielders. Supporters say they are lighter and easier to handle. Little League banned composite bats in its older junior, senior and big league divisions in August. The league broadened the ban yesterday to include the younger majors division featured in the World Series. Players can use wood bats, metal bats or bats with composite materials in the handle only.

Tennis

* Chanda Rubin's house burned during an intense thunderstorm and lightning was a likely cause, Lafayette, La., fire officials said. The 1990s tennis star was the only person in the house and got out safely. Rubin, 34, won seven singles titles on the WTA Tour and reached as high as No. 6 in the rankings in 1996.

* Nicolas Kiefer retired from tennis at 33 after a career in which the German reached a No. 4 ranking and the semifinals of the 2006 Australian Open.

Sport Stops

* Olympic champion marathoner Sammy Wanjiru, of Kenya, has been charged with wounding his security guard with an AK-47 assault rifle and threatening to kill his wife and maid in his home in Nyahururu. He denies all charges and was released on bail. Wanjiru, 23, is the youngest runner to win four major marathons. He finished first in London in 2009 and the 2008 Olympics and won twice in Chicago. The case returns to court Feb. 9.

* Speedskaters Shani Davis and Jilleanne Rookard dominated the first day of all-around competition at the U.S. national championships at the Utah Olympic Oval. Davis won the 500 and the 5,000 meters. Rookard won the 500 and the 3,000.