Morales conference marks return of GM Ryan

Designated hitter Kendrys Morales’ news conference on Sunday brought back a familiar face to Target Field.

General Manager Terry Ryan sat next to Morales and addressed the media about the acquisition. It’s the first time Ryan has assumed the reins of power since February, when cancer in his neck was diagnosed.

“This is a good day for the organization; I’m happy to be back,” Ryan said in his opening remarks.

Ryan won’t be back completely to resume day-to-day activities, but he said he will take some of the load off assistant GM Rob Antony, who has filled in for Ryan and will travel on the Twins’ nine-game road trip that begins Monday in Toronto.

Ryan is still going through physical therapy to help with swallowing, but he recently traveled to Class A Cedar Rapids as part of his annual trip to every affiliated minor league team.

Despite his absence, Ryan still displayed a witty sense of humor at the podium in his return.

“I’m not quite 100 percent like [Morales] is,” Ryan said. “He’s more ready to take on than I am. I’m about 80 [percent].”

Day off for Mauer

First baseman Joe Mauer received the day off on Sunday to rest, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. While he hasn’t had the typical Mauer season this year, Ryan thinks the 2009 American League MVP will return to form soon.

“His track record is too good, his health is good,” Ryan said. “There’s no reason he can’t string together about four or five games here quickly. It’ll return.”

Mauer is batting .264, the lowest batting average in his career with more than 200 at-bats into a season. Ryan said he has watched most of the Twins games this season and feels Mauer has just been unlucky so far.

“I think that’s a fair assessment,” Ryan said. “He scorched that ball [Saturday] I think that was up the middle [in the sixth]. With the shifts going on some of those things that are base hits in years past aren’t anymore.”

Minor details

The Twins still hope that third baseman Miguel Sano, out for the season because of Tommy John elbow ligament surgery, will be able to get some at-bats as a desiginated hitter before the end of the minor league season. Brad Steil, the Twins director of minor league operations, said Sano is no longer wearing a brace, but it will be three or four weeks before he will be evaluated again. If that goes well, he could get the go-ahead to start playing catch.

Outfielder Byron Buxton, hampered most of the season because of a sprained left wrist, is beginning to make progress and could start playing catch this week.

Outfielder Max Kepler, who was limited to 61 games last season while he rehabilitated a strained flexor tendon in his left elbow, is back on the DL at Class A Fort Myers because of more problems. He was in the Twin Cities over the weekend to see Twins doctors. Steil said this problem is more forearm-related and Kepler should be able to play in a week. “Kepler said he tweaked it the other night,” Steil said. “He said it felt tight.’’

Etc.

• Outfielder Sam Fuld went 1-for-3 with a double Saturday and 1-for-3 Sunday in his first two games on rehab assignment with Class AA New Britain. Fuld has been on the disabled list since May 8 because of concussion symptoms.

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