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Ryan diagnosed with cancer, to miss Spring Training

GM being treated for squamous cell carcinoma at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.

Ryan diagnosed with cancer, to miss Spring Training play video for Ryan diagnosed with cancer, to miss Spring Training

MINNEAPOLIS -- Twins general manager Terry Ryan is being treated for a cancerous growth in his neck, he announced in a statement on Monday.

Ryan underwent his annual physical with Twins team physician Dr. Vijay Eyunni, who discovered a lump in his neck two weeks ago. A biopsy was then performed, which led to the diagnosis of squamous cell carcinoma in a lymph node in his neck.

Ryan, 60, said the cancer is treatable and he's currently being treated at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.

"Thankfully, incremental tests indicate the cancer appears to be confined to my neck and has not spread to other regions of my body," Ryan said in a statement. "At the direction of Dr. Eyunni, I am currently being treated at the Mayo Clinic as well as Minnesota Oncology. I've been assured this form of cancer is treatable and remain optimistic about my return to good health in the near future."

Ryan, who served as the Twins' GM from 1994-2007 before becoming Minnesota's GM again in '11, will not be in Fort Myers, Fla., for the start of Spring Training and there's no timetable for his return.

"Understanding the need to focus on treatment and recovery, I will not be in Fort Myers as we commence Spring Training," Ryan said. That said, I'm highly confident in the proven leadership of our baseball operations team including Rob Antony, Mike Radcliff, Ron Gardenhire and others as we collectively prepare for the 2014 Major League season.

"Lastly, my family and I would like to say thank you to Dr. Eyunni as well as the doctors and medical staff at the Mayo Clinic and Minnesota Oncology. In addition, we are grateful for the many friends and colleagues who have sent their well wishes and support throughout this challenging time. It's my intention to see you back at the ballpark as soon as possible."

The Twins also held a press conference at Target Field on Monday afternoon with Twins president Dave St. Peter, assistant general manager Antony and Eyunni to make the announcement. St. Peter opened up the press conference with a statement on behalf of the Twins organization.

"Clearly, it's a difficult day any time a loved one is diagnosed with cancer," St. Peter said. "That said, we believe and know that Terry's in the best medical hands in the country and really share his high level of confidence that better days are ahead and that he'll be back at this ballpark in the relatively near future. First and foremost, our focus is on him getting better, and we will support him and Karilyn and his kids in every way possible throughout that journey."

Eyunni said that Ryan had three doctor appointments at the Mayo Clinic on Monday, and is likely to have surgery on his neck on Tuesday to remove the cancer. The doctors still don't know the primary source of the cancer but the good news is that it hasn't spread and was caught early.

"The only thing the PET scan showed was cancer in his lymph node, so that's really good news," Eyunni said. "So, if you take that lymph node out and dissect around that area, we expect a cure along with the radiation. So with the prognosis at this point, we're very optimistic."

With Ryan unavailable for Spring Training, Antony said he'll work together with fellow assistant GMs Wayne Krivsky and Radcliff.

"We're just going to work together and try to make the best decisions for the club, and obviously we're going to have a lot of decisions to make in Spring Training," Antony said. "This is a tough time of year, as you put this thing together, but we've done our offseason work for the most part now, and we're going to have to make some decisions. But the players usually make the decisions for us in Spring Training, so we'll move forward."

Antony, who has worked with the Twins since 1988, said it was difficult hear the news from Ryan, who joined the organization in '86.

"In a lot of ways, he's the face of the baseball side of this organization," Antony said. "When you see Terry Ryan, you see stability. When you see somebody as strong as he is -- decisive and everything else -- who gets stricken with something like this, you realize and understand that this can happen to anybody. We all respect Terry and everything he does. We've also all learned a lot from him. And so we're just going to carry on and do things -- there's a lot of things that I've learned over the last 20 years working side-by-side with him that will come into play now."

Twins players were not formally told of Ryan's condition on Monday but pitcher Glen Perkins responded to the news via 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."

Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, and follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

{"event":["spring_training" ] }
{"event":["spring_training" ] }