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Ryan pays surprise visit to Twins' spring complex

General manager, who is battling cancer, catches up with coaches, staff members

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- General manager Terry Ryan made a surprise visit to Hammond Stadium on Friday, and is scheduled to watch the Twins play the Yankees on Saturday afternoon before heading back to Minnesota.

Ryan, who underwent surgery to remove a cancerous lump from his neck in February, caught the last few innings of Minnesota's 9-1 loss to the Mets, and more important, had a chance to meet with coaches and staff members to show that he's feeling much better.

Ryan still has five more weeks of radiation treatment left, and underwent radiation before his flight on Friday, but he looked healthy and showed no ill-effects from the treatments, which began on March 13. Ryan did lose about 14 pounds after the surgery, but said he's gained roughly half of it back.

"I decided it was probably a good thing and important to come down here and show everybody that I'm still engaged," Ryan said. "I'm not sure what the right decision is. But I have to go back because I have radiation five days a week from Monday to Friday. So, I can't stay long. As much as I'd like to be here at least a week, I can't, and I have to leave tomorrow."

Ryan, 60, was diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma in early February after a lump was found in a lymph node in his neck. He underwent surgery at the Mayo Clinic on Feb. 11, and was released from the hospital three days later.

Ryan said he's still been able to watch Twins games on television with all 16 of their home games televised locally by FOX Sports North, and remains in constant contact with his assistants Rob Antony, Wayne Krivsky, Mike Radcliff, Bill Smith and Jack Goin.

"If I have treatment in the morning, I go right from there to my Target [Field] office," Ryan said. "It works out fine. I stay until mid-afternoon and go home and turn [baseball] on. So it's a decent day. I get plenty of information. When I get home, I have the opportunity to watch a lot of games. MLB televises like three games a day so it's very convenient to keep an eye on the industry."

Ryan said he'll miss Opening Day against the White Sox on March 31 in Chicago, as he won't be able to travel much until he's done with radiation treatments in late April. But Ryan said he plans on being there for every game at Target Field, including the home opener against the A's on April 7. Antony is expected to travel in Ryan's place early in the season when the Twins are on the road.

"All the home games, I'll be in attendance," Ryan said. "If things go right, I should be OK, and move on."

Ryan added that he plans to meet with Twins players in the clubhouse before Saturday's game, but said he's more likely to talk to the players one-on-one rather than giving a speech to the team. He also said he plans on heading over to the Minor League side as well.

Antony, who has been serving as acting GM in Ryan's absence this spring, was among those who had a chance to see Ryan on Friday, and was happy to see Ryan doing so well.

"I think it's a relief and good for everybody to see him," Antony said. "Just to catch up with him and talk to him. We went over a few things about the team, but we also talked about how he's doing."

Ryan also wanted to send out the message that he appreciates all the support he's received from those around the game, including Twins employees and fans.

"I'm thankful for all the attention, help and care and interest," Ryan said. "There have been hundreds and hundreds of well-wishes. It's unbelievable the support I've got. My wife [Karilyn] has had to do a lot of stuff for me because I was on a feeding tube for a while. But I'm feeling good right now. I'm optimistic things are moving in the right direction. There's no doubt about that."

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