FORT MYERS, Fla. (AP) — While listening to assistant general manager Rob Antony deliver the traditional clubhouse talk on the first day of full-squad workouts, Minnesota Twins reliever Brian Duensing kept thinking of Terry Ryan.
That speech, given on Saturday, had been Ryan’s responsibility for all but four springs since he replaced Andy MacPhail as general manager nearly two decades ago. With Ryan recuperating back home in Eagan, Minn., following Feb. 11 surgery to remove a cancerous lump from his neck, Twins spring training isn’t quite the same.
“When you see Terry Ryan each spring, you know, ‘All right, it’s here. It’s time to go,'” Duensing said Monday. “Rob Antony gave that speech this time, and the whole time he was talking I could hear Terry Ryan giving the same speech. I could hear his voice. You could tell it was almost out of his mouth.”
Antony, who had asked Ryan for copies of his previous camp-opening speeches, was wearing a black T-shirt that read “Stand Up To Cancer” as he delivered Saturday’s welcome. All 110 members of the Twins’ spring family, including 64 players in camp, wore the shirt in support of Ryan.
Dustin Morse, the Twins’ baseball communications director, ordered the T-shirts and had his staff take pictures during the team’s workout. The photos were then emailed to Ryan.
That included one of Morse and Twins director of team travel Mike Herman wearing the SUTC shirts.
Ryan, slowly regaining his strength, wrote back that he was fining Morse and Herman $1 apiece for wearing “Gilligan shoes” — Ryan’s term for deck shoes — to work.
Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said the T-shirt idea was “pretty cool” and showed the organization’s support “for Terry and everybody else that’s going through this.”
Third baseman Trevor Plouffe, whose mother and aunt are cancer survivors, smiled when asked what Ryan’s reaction might be upon seeing Twins people in those T-shirts.
“He doesn’t really show this side too often, but he might get a little emotional,” Plouffe said. “I know he’ll smile. Just to know we’re thinking of him, that’s a big thing for people going through something like that.”
Twins officials have suggested it is unlikely that the 60-year-old Ryan would feel well enough to make a cameo at Twins camp this spring. Even though he passed his one-week checkup at the Mayo Clinic and was said to be progressing well, Ryan has pledged to devote his energy to making a full recovery.
Some within the organization have informally circled April 7, the date of the home opener against the Oakland Athletics, as a potential target for Ryan’s return.
In the meantime, Antony is leaning on fellow vice president Mike Radcliff, special assistant Wayne Krivsky, and administrator Jack Goin to help keep camp running smoothly. With job battles in center field, the back of the rotation, catcher and utility infield, the Twins have a busier-than-usual spring agenda.
It’s unclear how closely Ryan will be able or allowed to follow the daily events this spring, but it should help that all 16 Twins home games will be broadcast on Fox Sports North in the Twin Cities. There are no plans to have major league video manager Sean Harlin send footage of daily workouts to Ryan.
“I think he understands we’re a family,” Twins pitcher Mike Pelfrey said. “Hopefully the doctors take care of anything, but anything we can do we’re definitely here for him.”
NOTES: Rookie catcher Josmil Pinto resumed limited drill work after missing three days because of a stiff lower back. Pinto was able to take some light swings and do some throwing. He also caught a bullpen session. … SS Pedro Florimon, who underwent an appendectomy last Monday, rode a stationary bike for 20 minute. He has been approved to lift 15-20 pounds in the weight room and hopes to resume hitting in the cage next week.
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