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TWINS: Team wears special T-shirts to support GM Ryan in cancer fight

by Mike McFeely

Fort Myers, Fla.

All 110 Minnesota Twins players and staff wore black T-shirts that read "Stand Up To Cancer" on Saturday during the team's first full-squad workout. They also posed for a picture that was sent back to Minnesota so the team's popular general manager could see it.

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire wears a "Stand Up To Cancer" T-shirt Saturday.

Longtime GM Terry Ryan is back in Minnesota resting after having a cancerous lump removed from his neck Feb. 11. The gesture and photo were meant to show the team's support for Ryan.

"Our players were very interested in sending the message back to Terry that we all miss him and want him to get better and recover soon," said Ryan's assistant GM, Rob Antony. 

Terry Ryan

Ryan's absence is noticeable in Fort Myers. He's been with the Twins since the mid-1980s and hadn't missed a spring training prior to this year.

Ryan had his one-week post-surgery checkup a couple of days ago. Antony said the report was favorable.

"He was pleased with the news and doctors were pleased he was feeling well," Antony said. "But it's going to be slow, long process for him. He's a tough guy but he understands he needs to take the time to rest and recuperate."

I talked with Ryan at Twins Fest at Target Field in late January and he seemed pleased with his off-season signings of free-agent pitchers Ricky Nolasco and Phil Hughes. Antony said he talked with Ryan recently and the GM had a lot of questions about what was happening in Fort Myers. But there are no plans for Ryan to get more involved in the daily operations of the Twins, or to make the trip to southwest Florida anytime soon.

"He's a fighter and this won't get the best of him. We know he will do everything he needs to do. He's a competitor and he's as stubborn as the day is long, so we don't have any doubt he can conquer this," Antony said. "I told him he's going to have to call me when he feels up to it and then we can discuss what's going on. I want to get his opinion but at the same time I don't want to call him when he's not having a great day or if he's tired or whatever. We want to leave it up to him to call us when he feels up to it."

In addition to showing support for Ryan, the T-shirts were also a way to raise awareness about cancer. Antony said most people know somebody who has been affected by the disease.

"It's also an opportunity raise awareness for all the people who are battling cancer or are cancer survivors," Antony said. "It's more about the Stand Up to Cancer today than it is about the Twins."

You can find more information about the organization at http://www.standup2cancer.org/

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