DETROIT — The firing of longtime executive Terry Ryan on Monday looms as the first of several changes in store for the woeful Minnesota Twins. A managerial switch won’t be one of them.
Twins owner and CEO Jim Pohlad cut ties with Ryan and hired assistant GM Rob Antony to replace him on an interim basis. The news sent shockwaves through the visiting clubhouse as the Twins began a three-game road series in Detroit.
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Ryan was the team’s GM from 1994-2007, served as a special assistant for four years, then returned as the GM in November 2011. Ryan wasn’t able to recapture past glory, as the team failed to make the playoffs during his second stint.
The Twins have been dismal virtually since Opening Day this season and dropped 26 games below .500 with a 1-0 loss on Monday night. They’ll play the second game of the three-game series on Tuesday night.
Manager Paul Molitor received assurances from Pohlad that he’ll retain his job the rest of this season and into next season, regardless of whether Antony has the interim tag removed.
"I’m grateful because I want to keep doing this," Molitor said. "I want to help try to be part of the solution of our team getting better and finding a way to do some things we haven’t been able to do for quite a while."
Antony was privy to all the trade discussions that Ryan had with other GMs. Antony was given the green light by his owner to do whatever he wants to improve the team. The non-waiver trade deadline arrives on Aug. 1.
"They’ve put me in a good position," Antony said. "They’re not hamstrung in any way. There are no financial problems or issues where we need to dump players or save money. We’re going to have some different ideas, different approaches. … There are some things we need to tweak."
There are several veterans who could be on the move, including 29-year-old left-hander Tommy Milone, the scheduled starter on Tuesday. Milone has boosted his trade value this month by winning his last two outings after failing to collect a victory in his first seven starts. He’s pitched well against the Tigers in the past, going 3-1 with a 3.86 ERA in seven career outings.
He’ll be opposed by struggling right-hander Anibal Sanchez. Detroit manager Brad Ausmus was forced to reinsert Sanchez into the rotation when Jordan Zimmermann and Daniel Norris were sidelined by injuries.
Sanchez, who is 5-10 with a 6.75 ERA, has lost both his July starts while surrendering 12 earned runs in 8 1/3 innings.
The Tigers could be in the market for another starter, even when Zimmermann and Norris come off the 15-day disabled list. By winning three of their first four games since the break, the Tigers greatly decreased the possibility of selling off assets before the trade deadline.
"Hopefully, we force the team’s hand to be buyers. You don’t want to be sellers," ace right-hander Justin Verlander said. "Obviously, we went through that last year and it was tough for everybody. It wasn’t fun the last couple of months. We’re a good club and we’ve just got to go out there and prove it."
The Tigers have gotten solid starting pitching in their last three victories, as well as stellar bullpen outings. They have allowed only four runs in those games.
"That’s definitely the recipe," said left fielder Justin Upton, who provided the only offense on Monday with a solo homer. "If the starters go out and pitch six strong innings, we can put some runs on the board and our bullpen comes out sharp, we’re going to have a chance to win a lot of ballgames."