Riccardo Ingram beat brain cancer in 2009 and was able to return to the Twins as a minor league coach. But the cancer returned recently, and Ingram died Tuesday evening in Atlanta. He was 48.
Ingram was scheduled to return to the Twins for an 18th season with the organization as a hitting coach for the rookie Gulf Coast League Twins.
It was a blow to many current Twins who had worked with him through the years.
“I had a chance to spend a lot of time with him,” manager Paul Molitor said. “Particularly spring training and the player development days. He was just a courageous man and we all were kind of blessed he was able to have this last five, six years after the original diagnosis.”
An outfielder, Ingram was drafted by the Tigers in 1987 and reached the majors with Detroit in 1994, then played four games for the Twins in 1995. A two-sport star at Georgia Tech and the 1987 Atlantic Coast Conference Athlete of the Year, Ingram, a defensive back in football, played against Auburn’s Frank Thomas and Bo Jackson in college.
Former Twins outfielder Denard Span wrote on Twitter: “Nobody would know who Denard Span was if it weren’t for the help of [Riccardo] Ingram.. One of the best men in baseball.”
Pinto still in running
Josmil Pinto, whose spring has consisted of seven games, 17 at-bats and a few concussion tests, will get to finish spring training with the Twins and possibly head north with the club.
Pinto was 1-for-2 with two walks in a minor league spring game Wednesday. Most important, he got through three games with no setbacks following the concussion he suffered on March 21.
“I feel good,” he said.
So Pinto will back up starter Kurt Suzuki on Thursday night against Boston, catching a couple of innings late in the game.
There appears to be a willingness from the club to take Pinto north if he looks like he’s able to handle the backup role. But Eric Fryer and Chris Herrmann also remain in camp as catching options.
Pinto, 6-for-17 in major league spring games, suffered a concussion when Baltimore’s Adam Jones, while swinging at a pitch, hit Pinto in the head with his follow-through.
Santana being sued
Pitcher Ervin Santana, scheduled to start the Twins’ home opener on April 13, is being sued by a Miami jeweler in a dispute over custom-made necklaces. Santana tried to return the necklaces shortly after receiving them last October because they weren’t what he had agreed to, his attorney said, but Major League Jewelers responded by suing for the $40,000 they say is outstanding, plus $14,000 in collection fees.
Santana, who signed a $55 million contract with the Twins in December, “is 100 percent focused on the season, on being prepared and ready to go,” said his attorney, Darren Heitner of Miami.
Santana is scheduled to start on Thursday against Boston.
Outfielder Oswaldo Arcia was scratched from Wednesday’s lineup because of a stomach ailment, but Molitor has him penciled into Thursday’s lineup against Red Sox righthander Rick Porcello.
La VELLE E. NEAL III