Harmon Killebrew, the Hall of Fame slugger who has battled esophageal cancer, said Friday that he is near death and is entering hospice care.

Harmon Killebrew in 2010. (Jim Mone / AP)

“I have spent the past decade of my life promoting hospice care and educating people on its benefits. I am very comfortable taking this next step and experiencing the compassionate care that hospice provides.

“I am comforted by the fact that I am surrounded by my family and friends. I thank you for the outpouring of concern, prayers and encouragement that you have shown me. I look forward to spending my final days in comfort and peace with Nita by my side.”

Killebrew, a third baseman who was signed by and played two full seasons for the Washington Senators before they moved to Minnesota before the 1961 season, was diagnosed with the disease in December. He ranks 11th on the all-time major league home run list with 573 and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1984.