DETROIT – Rob Antony was sitting in Terry Ryan’s booth at Target Field on Sunday when he was asked via text to go see Twins President Dave St. Peter. Once there, he was taken to owner Jim Pohlad’s suite. And that’s when his life changed.
“He informed me at that time that they were going to relieve Terry of his duties and they wanted me to take over as interim GM,” Antony said. “And up until that point I had no idea.”
Stunned, Antony walked back to Ryan’s booth. An intern who first cut his teeth in the media relations department had now ascended to the big chair. And he sat next to the man who had been so many things to him through the years as he climbed the baseball ladder.
They talked. The game ended. Antony boarded the team charter for Detroit as the interim GM — he was scheduled to make the trip before Ryan’s departure.
“It will be fine as long as nobody asks me what he means to me,” Antony said Monday. “It’s been tough. Worked with the man for 20 years and have nothing but respect for him. And he’s been a mentor. He’s been like a second dad for me. It’s been a tough day for a lot of people. There were a lot of tears shed in Minneapolis when the staff was informed.”
The bittersweet feelings about the change will quickly disappear as Antony is handed the keys with the Aug. 1 nonwaiver trade deadline bearing down. The Twins have a handful of players who could be moved: Starting pitcher Ervin Santana, relievers Ryan Pressly and Fernando Abad and even All-Star infielder Eduardo Nunez are among those who could be available for the right price.
Antony will have to pick up where Ryan left off in negotiations with clubs, but the transition in that regard isn’t expected to be that difficult. After Antony’s appointment became official, he talked with Ryan during the final innings of Sunday’s game against Cleveland. And Ryan spent the time stressing to Antony that he’s ready for the job.
“Every conversation he’s had, when he talks to a GM, before he gets on the phone he yells and I go in there,” Antony said. “So I’ve heard all the conversations. I’m up to speed on that.
“But it’s always different when you’re in that chair, when you are making that decision and you go from being one of the voices giving your thoughts and opinions to the boss, to getting everyone else’s opinion and then you make the decision.”
A University of Minnesota grad, Antony was hired as the assistant director of media relations in 1988 and eventually became the director of media relations. In 1995, he moved to director of baseball operations, which included some scouting duties. In 2007, he became the assistant GM and eventually started negotiating contracts. He was promoted to vice president and assistant GM in 2013.
Every step along the way, Antony, 51, proved himself. Now his challenge is to guide the club during one of the busier times of the season.
“Rob will be fine,” said Mike Radcliff, Twins VP in charge of player personnel. “He knows everybody. He knows what is required of him. Every person makes their own decisions based on the information they hear, know and analyze. I don’t see how the process changes much here until they figure out who they want to put in charge [permanently].”
Antony already has spoken to his staff about ways to be more productive and to improve the information flow about players. Monday, he sat at a dining room table at Comerica Park, surrounded by scouts from other teams.
“I had always envisioned that there would come a day when Terry would say he’s had enough and notify the family that he was going to retire and step aside and hopefully he would recommend me and hopefully they would want me as the next GM,” Antony said. “This is not the way I had envisioned it.”