Ryan was second-guessed by a lot of people for his free-agent signings coming into this season, but a lot of those players are proving him right.
“You go into the free-agent market and it is always decisions that you come out of there with regarding your evaluations,” said Ryan, who is making a good recovery after treatments for cancer in his neck. “Some guys come in and make an immediate impact, sometimes it takes guys a year or so to get comfortable, but the jury is still out on exactly what we did do or didn’t do as far as free agency. We hit on some and we’re going to miss on some. It’s just the nature of pursuing free agents.”
Which players have surprised Ryan?
“[Catcher Kurt] Suzuki has had a good go and [pitcher Phil] Hughes has had a good go,” he said. “We’ve had a couple that have struggled to some extent. We feel pretty good about this club. This club has responded some. We’re certainly competitive. We’re much better than we were a year ago.”
Can this club finish high in the standings?
“You always have a chance,” Ryan said. “You still have to execute. Our starting pitching has to lead the way. You aren’t going to do it with offense, you’re going to do it with starting pitching. Our bullpen has been pretty reliable. We have to get better starts, more quality starts, consistent starting, to see where it will take us.”
• The MLB All-Star Game and Home Run Derby next month are sold out, and attendance for each is expected to be more than 40,000. There are still a limited number of tickets available for All-Star Sunday on July 13, which features the MLB Futures Game and the Legends and Celebrity Softball Game. … The Twins and MLB are planning two major All-Star Game hospitality events in conjunction with the game at Target Field. The All-Star Gala takes place following the Home Run Derby on July 14 and will be held along West River Parkway near the Mill City Museum in downtown Minneapolis. The All-Star pregame celebration on July 15 will be staged in the Rapid Park lot adjacent to the stadium.
• On Friday night, the Twins’ St. Peter was the keynote speaker at an event celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Puckett Scholars program at the University of Minnesota. Founded in 1994 by Kirby and Tonya Puckett, the program has provided academic scholarships to more than 80 minority students. … Grant Hockin, the grandson of Twins legend Harmon Killebrew, was drafted by the Cleveland Indians in the second round of the MLB amateur draft this weekend. Hockin, a righthanded pitcher, played at Damien High School in La Verne, Calif., and is committed to attend UCLA. … When Chuck Knoblauch is inducted into the Twins Hall of Fame on August 23 at Target Field, look for his former manager, Tom Kelly, to introduce him.
• Former Gophers basketball player Trevor Mbakwe had posted six consecutive double-doubles in the Serie A playoffs for Virtus Rome in Italy, including a 15-point, 11-rebound effort Wednesday, but that streak ended Friday when he scored only two points and grabbed nine rebounds in a winning effort. … A number of local basketball stars will be taking part in the Grassroots Hoops Club All-Star event at Concordia (St. Paul) on June 22, including Mbakwe, Jordair Jett, Troy Bell, Rodney Williams and Moe Hargrow.
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. email@example.com