MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Diagnosed with cancer in his neck, Minnesota Twins general manager Terry Ryan has taken leave from his job for treatment and recovery.
The timetable for his return is unclear, but the prognosis is optimistic. Though sobered by and concerned about the news, the Twins expressed confidence in the ability of their front office's long-time leader to beat the disease and get back to running the team.
"I don't doubt he'll get this knocked out," assistant general manager Rob Antony said. "He's a tough bird, as he would say."
The Twins released a statement on Monday from Ryan, who thanked his doctors, friends and colleagues for their work and support.
"It's my intention to see you back at the ballpark as soon as possible," Ryan said.
During his recent annual physical exam, the 60-year-old Ryan asked team physician Dr. Vijay Eyunni to examine a hard lump on his neck about an inch in diameter that had appeared a few weeks earlier. Further tests revealed squamous cell carcinoma.
The squamous cells are in several parts of the body, but Eyunni said the source and cause of the cancer was undetermined. All that was known, he said, was that it was in his lymph node but had not spread to anywhere else.
"The good news is we caught it early," Eyuinni said, adding: "As you know, both mentally and physically, he's very strong. So with treatment and radiation, it's going to help him a lot. He'll recover better than someone who is not healthy."
Ryan was at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., and expected to have surgery on Tuesday. Radiation treatment will likely follow. But once removed, Eyunni said, this type of cancer does not come back.
"It should be completely done. It does not regenerate anymore," Eyunni said.
Despite the positive outlook for a full recovery, this close-knit organization felt a collective anxiety and letdown upon learning of Ryan's condition.
"My family is praying for Terry Ryan and his family. Cancer is a terrible thing and we are hoping for a fast recovery," reliever Brian Duensing said on Twitter.
"Cancer news hit close to home today. Sickened to hear about one of the men I respect most. My prayers are with you Terry," closer Glen Perkins tweeted.
Manager Ron Gardenhire, in an e-mail, said he's had a "rough few days" in regard to Ryan's cancer.