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Ryan on hand as Twins stand up to cancer in opener

MINNEAPOLIS -- After taking part in home openers for the White Sox and Indians already this season during their first road trip, the Twins were finally able to host their own home opener on Monday against the A's.

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said he was excited to be back at Target Field after starting the year on a six-game, seven-day road trip.

"It was nice to get here to the ballpark and walk into the clubhouse, the whole package," Gardenhire said. "We've been gone a long time, so it's nice."

During the game, the Twins and A's wore Stand Up To Cancer patches as a show of support for general manager Terry Ryan and all those impacted by cancer. In addition, both teams wore special SU2C caps during batting practice.

Ryan, 60, was diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma in early February, and he had surgery to remove a cancerous mass from his neck on Feb. 11. He's currently undergoing radiation treatment until late April, but he was at the park on Monday and plans to attend home games this month at Target Field.

At the end of the second inning, the fans also joined players from both teams to "Stand Up To Cancer." Placards were distributed to fans as they entered Target Field, and fans were encouraged to personalize their placard with the name of someone they know who has been affected by cancer.

Before the game, Twins legends were also on hand at their respective gates, with Bert Blyleven representing fellow Hall of Famer Harmon Killebrew at Gate 3, Tony Oliva at Gate 6, Kent Hrbek at Gate 15, Tom Kelly representing Rod Carew at Gate 29 and a Twins official representing Kirby Puckett at Gate 34.

There were also several on-field performances, as Home Free, a local a cappella group that won Season 5 of NBC's "The Sing-Off" performed, and the national anthem was performed by local singer Thomasina Petrus. The ceremonial first pitch was thrown out by Minneapolis-based actor Barkhad Abdi, who was nominated for an Oscar for his role in the film "Captain Phillips."

Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, and follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger.
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