Twins general manager Terry Ryan, diagnosed last week with cancer in his neck, will likely undergo surgery to remove his lymph nodes on Tuesday and will miss spring training in Fort Myers, Fla., the team announced Monday.
The 60-year-old Ryan, who checked into the Mayo Clinic in Rochester on Monday, has turned over leadership of the team to assistant general manager Rob Antony while he undergoes treatment -- expected to include surgery and radiation treatments -- to eliminate cancer which showed up last month in the form of a lump in his neck.
The cancer has not spread to any other parts of his body, Twins physician Dr. Vijay Eyunni stressed, and "we're very optimistic" that his condition, called squamous-cell cancer, is curable. It's too soon to establish a timeline for Ryan's recovery and return to the Twins, Eyunni said, because doctors at Mayo were examining him Monday.
"It's a difficult day anytime a loved one is diagnosed with cancer," team president Dave St. Peter said. "That said, we know that Terry is in the best medical hands in the country, and we share his high level of confidence that better days are ahead, and he'll be back at [Target Field] in the relatively near future."
He won't, however, be in Fort Myers when the Twins open camp next week -- pitchers and catchers report on Sunday -- leaving roster and transaction decisions during the spring to Antony, director of player personnel Mike Radcliff, manager Ron Gardenhire, and the various on-field and front-office staffs.
"I started asking him questions -- how do you want me to handle this or that?" Antony said. "He just looked at me and basically said, 'You've been around here long enough. You've been in all these meetings. Just go down and do your thing. You know what you're doing.
"It felt good that he had that kind of confidence in me."
Ryan has been with the Twins since 1986, and is in his second stint as general manager. He held the post from Sept. 1994 until the end of the 2007 season, then returned to the position on Nov. 7, 2011.
A two-time Executive of the Year, as named by The Sporting News in 2002 and 2006, Ryan was drafted by the Twins in the 35th round in 1972 and pitched in the organization for four seasons before suffering a career-ending injury. The Janesville, Wis., native and his wife Karilyn have two children.
In a statement in his name, Ryan thanked Eyunni, "as well as the doctors and medical staff at the Mayo Clinic and Minnesota Oncology. In addition, we are grateful for the many friends and colleagues who have sent their well-wishes and support throughout this challenging time," it read. "It's my intention to see you back at the ballpark as soon as possible."