Terry Ryan indicated strongly Thursday that if he is the Twins' general manager when the 2015 season begins, Ron Gardenhire will be back for a 13th season as manager.

He also implied he will return as GM next season if his health continues to improve, a decision he won't make until the end of the year. Ryan had surgery to remove cancer from his neck in February and radiation treatments before returning to work full-time in June.

Ryan was asked if he wants to come back next season.

"Let me get through the year," he said. "Like everything around this organization, we usually wait until the end of the year before we make any decisions."

What about Gardenhire?

"Same stuff. He is signed for next year, so you don't have to worry about him."

He'll be back?

"Yeah, yeah, I would say he'll be back," Ryan said.

Does Ryan think Gardenhire has done a good job this season with a struggling Twins club?

"We can all do better," Ryan said. "We're not where we need to be. We can all do a better job. He has to, I have to, as an organization, we all have to. We're just not playing up to what we're wishing we were, consequently we're not playing games that mean much in September."

Even though this will be the fourth bad year in a row for the Twins, it's obvious the team will start next year with better young talent, including a number of players who have improved with experience this year.

"[Right fielder Oswaldo] Arcia, [designated hitter Kennys] Vargas and [shortstop and center fielder Danny] Santana have all come up here and done a pretty good job," Ryan said. "As you can see, they have talent. It's just a matter of a little bit more experience. They have some ability to help us down the road."

Ryan praised former Yankees starter Phil Hughes, who won his 14th game against eight losses Thursday by beating Cleveland 4-1 at Target Field. Hughes pitched seven innings of one-run ball, allowing five hits and striking out eight.

"[Hughes] has been good," Ryan said. "When he came over here, he just had some problems with Yankee Stadium and the dimensions over there, I think more than anything. We got him in this ballpark and it has certainly been to his liking. He has given us a lot of good outings, he throws a lot of strikes, he's competitive and he's been a good addition to this club."

Ryan also said he still has hope for Ricky Nolasco, who is in the first year of a four-year, $49 million contract. He has a 5-9 record with a 5.96 ERA, after limiting the Indians to four runs over 6⅔ innings in his most recent start.

"He had a better outing [Wednesday, in a 5-0 loss to Cleveland]," Ryan said. "His stuff played better, and it was crisper. Now I think it's just a matter of command. He threw strikes, but I'm not sure his location is where he wanted it. He was better. He's going to be OK, I think."

Ryan was asked if there are a number of areas where the team has to improve for next season or if there are some positions that feel settled for next year.

"We certainly need to look at a lot of things here," Ryan said. "We just can't seem to get the big hit when we need it. We could use some depth in our rotation, there's no doubt about that. We have to address the personnel on the roster."

Facilities near for U

While Gophers athletic director Norwood Teague refused to talk about fundraising as recently as this week or say whether any part of the Athletes Village complex was ready to be built, the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal is reporting that the first phase of the $190 million project, a 57,000- to 75,000-square-foot academic center, is ready to proceed.

The complex would include a nutrition center, dining area, leadership center and academic support facilities.

According to the report, the university made an Aug. 7 request for proposals for predesign and site preparation work. Bids are due Aug. 27. The site of the building would be west of Siebert Field near the intersection of 15th Avenue and Fifth Street Southeast.

The Business Journal further reported that six construction firms making proposals met with school officials last week, including four local companies. There also are rumors that it might not be too long before similar work will become a reality on new football and basketball practice sites and facilities for use by other sports.


• While the Twins are struggling with hitting, here's a breakdown of what several former Twins are doing and their seasons stats. First baseman Justin Morneau, now with the Colorado Rockies, is leading the National League in batting average at .317 to go along with 13 home runs and 65 RBI. Washington Nationals center fielder Denard Span is hitting .300 with 75 runs scored. Detroit Tigers right fielder Torii Hunter is hitting .269 with 15 home runs and 65 RBI. Philadelphia Phillies center fielder Ben Revere is hitting .311 with 54 runs scored and 37 stolen bases. Shortstop J.J. Hardy went 0-for-4 for the Baltimore Orioles against the Chicago White Sox on Wednesday but is hitting .283 with seven home runs, 43 RBI and 26 doubles. Center fielder Carlos Gomez went 2-for-4 with a home run, two RBI and two runs scored Wednesday against Toronto and is hitting .287 with 21 home runs, 64 RBI and 82 runs scored for the Milwaukee Brewers. Right fielder Michael Cuddyer, who recently returned to the lineup after shoulder and hamstring injuries, is hitting .331 in 33 games for the Rockies.

• One thing Ryan did in his deals over the last month was to make the Twins a lot younger. He traded or released Josh Willingham (35), Kevin Correia (33), Sam Fuld (32), Kendrys Morales (31) and Matt Guerrier (36). That's an average age of 33.4 years. In return he got Jason Adam (23), Jordan Schafer (27), Tommy Milone (27), Stephen Pryor (25) and a player to be named later. That's an average age of about 25.5 years.

• Twins pitching prospect Alex Meyer continues to put up impressive numbers at Class AAA Rochester. Meyer struck out 10 over 5⅔ innings in a no-decision Wednesday. Over his past 10 starts, Meyer is 2-2 with a 2.94 ERA and 66 strikeouts and 26 walks in 52 innings pitched. Meyer's 149 strikeouts lead the International League, and what's more impressive is his 10.9 strikeouts per nine innings is nearly a strikeout more than the next qualified starter. By comparison, the only MLB pitcher with a higher strikeout-per-nine-inning rate is Yu Darvish of the Rangers at 11.4.

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