Hartman: Twins winning brings good feeling to GM Ryan

  • Article by: SID HARTMAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 7, 2014 - 6:30 AM

The GM hasn’t been around the team as much because of cancer treatments, but he likes the hitting so far.

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Twins General Manager Terry Ryan, who is undergoing cancer treatment, will attend Monday's home opener against Oakland.

Photo: David Brewster, Star Tribune file photo

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Twins General Manager Terry Ryan has been going through radiation treatment after being diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma after doctors found a cancerous lump in his neck. That means that Ryan hasn’t been around the Twins much this season, going to Fort Myers, Fla., for only one day during spring training and not traveling with the team for the first six games of the season.

Still, Ryan said that while he continues treatment, seeing the Twins win, as they did Sunday by defeating the Indians 10-7 and moving to 3-3 on the season, feels good.

“It always helps when they win, there’s no doubt,” Ryan said Sunday. “You feel a lot better when you see a win up on the board.”

Ryan will be at the home opener festivities on Monday and will watch the Twins live for the first time this season.

How does he feel about the performance of his club so far?

“Well we’re 3-3, it’s always good to come home winning two of three from a good club like Cleveland,” Ryan said. “We have not pitched well, as you’ve seen, but we’ve hit.”

Yes, it has been surprising how well the Twins have hit through six games. They are first in the American League in runs scored with 38, but they also lead the majors in runs allowed with 38.

Compare those numbers with the first six games from last season when the Twins scored 28 runs while allowing 25.

The offense was considered questionable coming into the season because in spring training the Twins produced so little. In their final 13 games of the spring, they scored only 34 runs, but so far the offense has found ways to produce.

Pitching, though, remains a concern because the Twins’ two big offseason signings — Ricky Nolasco and Phil Hughes — have had their struggles.

Nolasco is 0-1 with a 9.00 ERA through two games. He gave up five runs on seven hits over four innings in the Twins’ victory on Sunday but didn’t figure in the decision.

Hughes gave up four runs on seven hits over five innings in his Twins debut, a 10-9 victory over Chicago in which he didn’t figure in the decision.

Meanwhile, the Twins offense, a major concern over the past three seasons, has been an early surprise. Chris Colabello, a designated hitter and first baseman, has been tremendous after nearly being traded to the LG Twins of the Korean Baseball Organization for $1 million in cash this offseason.

He hit .349 in spring training with eight RBI and eight runs scored in 43 at-bats and has only heated up since breaking with the Twins. He is hitting .391 (9-for-23) with an American League-leading 11 RBI.

“He’s had a good start, hasn’t he?” Ryan said. “I’m very happy for the kid; he’s a good guy.”

Colabello hasn’t been the only surprise. Catcher Kurt Suzuki is hitting .429 with a .556 on-base percentage, good for second in the AL. And Jason Kubel is hitting .412 with three doubles, four RBI and three runs scored.

Meanwhile, Ryan said he feels good and expects his health will improve soon and that he’ll be back with the Twins on a regular basis.

“I’m not feeling that great yet; I’m getting there, though,” he said. “I have another three weeks of radiation.”

He said the radiation treatment limits his ability to follow the club, but he thinks that will change soon.

“Yeah, I’ve got a few other things going on in my life,” he said. “So I’m not quite paying as much attention as I would, but I’m getting there. … Another month or so and I might be OK.’’

Knight: NIT will help U

Former college basketball coach Bobby Knight believes that the NIT is a great benefit to the teams who miss making it to the NCAA tournament because they still get an opportunity to play more games, like the Gophers did, at the end of the season.

Knight coached in the NIT three times while at Army, twice at Indiana and once at Texas Tech.

“I think it’s tremendous for the team that they get to have that tournament exposure and get to play a couple of extra games, and it’s going to be great for Minnesota to be able to do that,” he said. “It just stands to reason that when they can continue to play and they’re playing for a championship that it’s going to really help them get into next year.”

What did Knight think of the Gophers play in their title-game victory over SMU?

“I thought they did a really good job,” he said. “They were in a situation where they found themselves down by about seven or eight points and they seemed to become a little bit tougher, a little bit stronger at that point, and played extremely well down through the final stages of the game.”

Jottings

• Twin President Dave St. Peter said fans will notice a few changes around Target Field, but the team is not bringing back the big spruce trees in the batter’s eye in center field. “We brought in some trees, more of a fir tree in center field below our celebration sign and the Target Field naming rights sign. We think that’s a nice touch,” St. Peter said. “There’s also going to be a little grass berm as well, just below the batter’s eye.”

• In 1951, the NCAA basketball East Regional final was held at Madison Square Garden while the West Regional was held at the Municipal Auditorium in Kansas City. The two winners of those games, Kentucky and Kansas State, met at Williams Arena for the championship. Kentucky wound up winning the game 68-58, giving Adolph Rupp his third national title. The tournament was not televised back then, and the attendance for the entire NCAA tournament that year, 15 games, was 110,645. On Saturday night, nearly 80,000 attended the Final Four at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

• The Capital One Cup standings, which ranks every Division I college on athletic achievement, has North Dakota State ranked third in the nation, while the Gophers are 29th. Minnesota’s ranking is the fourth best among Big Ten teams, trailing Michigan State, Penn State and Ohio State.

• Kevin Ollie, the Connecticut coach who has guided the No.-7-seeded Huskies to the NCAA final on Monday, played one season with the Timberwolves in 2008-09. He appeared in 50 games and started 20, averaging 4.0 points, 2.3 assists and 1.5 rebounds per game. He also served as Wolves captain that season.

 

Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on 830-AM at 7:40, 8:40 and 9:20 a.m. and on Sundays at 9:30 a.m. shartman@startribune.com

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