Texas Rangers left-hander Jake Diekman has been named the recipient of the 53rd Hutch Award, which is presented to the Major League player who “best exemplifies the fighting spirit and competitive desire” of Fred Hutchinson, the former MLB pitcher and Cincinnati Reds manager who passed away from lung cancer in 1964 at 45 years old.

Diekman will receive the award from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center at the 2018 Hutch Award Luncheon on Jan. 24 at Safeco Field in Seattle, which has raised more than $6.1 million to benefit cancer research at “Fred Hutch.”

The 30-year-old pitcher from Wymore, Nebraska had to spend the first five months of the 2017 season on the disabled list while undergoing three surgeries for ulcerative colitis. His colon ended up being removed and replaced by a reservoir known as a a J-pouch to account for the loss of the colon.

He eventually returned to the mound and compiled a 2.52 ERA in 11 appearances in the final month of the season.

“It’s been a long road,” Diekman said in his return after helping the Rangers to a 10-9 win over the Los Angeles Angels. “Very, very excited to get back out there.”



Diekman was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis at 10 years old. In December of 2016, the chronic inflammatory bowel disease that affects 1.6 million people caused him to lose 20 pounds in two weeks, so he elected to have the surgeries.

He hasn’t been shy about his condition either. In August, he and fiancé, Amanda Soltero, launched the Gut It Out Foundation to provide education and support to those afflicted by inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). The California-based non-profit supports organizations focused on research, pediatric care and support groups related to IBD. Diekman also makes himself available for online Q&A sessions to help others who have IBD.

Diekman is the first player from the Texas Rangers to ever receive the Hutch Award. Mickey Mantle was the first recipient in 1965.