Originally posted on Fox Sports North  |  Last updated 11/7/11
MINNEAPOLIS Glen Perkins said he was probably one of the last people to hear the news. But when the Twins' reliever found out Monday that general manager Bill Smith was being replaced by Terry Ryan, Perkins was surprised."I guess I was caught off-guard," Perkins said in a phone interview. "It's not usually their way to do things like that. You lose 99 games and things happen. Hopefully we'll be able to move on and this will help us."The shocked feeling was shared by Perkins' teammate, center fielder Denard Span."I'm definitely surprised. I thought that Terry Ryan had retired," Span said in a phone interview. "I think everybody knows Terry Ryan. He's done a good job in the past. I think there's no question it's a good fit for the organization."The Twins' front office announced the change Monday, naming Ryan as the interim GM. Ryan spent 13 years as Minnesota's general manager from 1994-2007, but stepped down after the 2007 season and recommended Smith for the job.Perkins and Span were two of many players drafted during Ryan's tenure. Perkins, the Twins' first-round pick out of the University of Minnesota in 2004, recalled his first meeting with Ryan as a rookie."He and I go way back to high school," said Perkins, a Stillwater, Minn., native. "When I signed, I flew to (Elizabethton, Tenn.) and I sat next to him on the plane. He kind of called me and said, If you sign now, you have to fly down to Elizabethton. I'll fly down there with you.' So we flew to Cincinnati and took the other flight to Tri Cities or wherever it was and drove in the car together to rookie ball. It was kind of my introduction to pro ball was a car ride with the GM."Span was drafted by Ryan in the first round of the 2002 draft out of Tampa (Fla.) Catholic High School. He broke into the majors with the Twins in 2008, which is when he said his relationship with Ryan grew stronger."It seemed like we had a little bit better relationship once he stepped down and once I made it to the big leagues," Span said. "He's a guy that I remember being younger that when he spoke to you, he told you how it was. He was straightforward, and I always respected him for that. He never sugar coated anything. He always told me the truth, whether I liked it or not. I've always respected him for that."Both Span and Perkins are confident that Ryan can help turn around a Twins club that lost 99 games in the 2011 season. For the early part of Ryan's tenure as GM, the Twins struggled. They finished either fourth or fifth in the American League Central during his first seven seasons at the helm. But in 2001, Ryan and the Twins' front office began to put a winning product on the field. After winning 85 games in 2001, Minnesota won 94 games in 2002 to claim the AL Central. From there, the Twins went on to win three more division titles under Ryan's watch."I think he's got an eye for talent. He's got an eye for the game, and I think he will be able to help," added Perkins. "There are some needs, and I'm sure they've already begun addressing them. They'll do their job and we'll all report to spring training together with the same goal."That goal is to again compete for an AL Central title, something that was well out of reach by season's end in 2011, thanks in large part to plethora of injuries to the team's key players. Now, Ryan and Minnesota's front office face tough decisions on player personnel, including which of the team's four current free agents to try and retain and which other free agents to pursue this offseason.Ryan acknowledged Monday that he's got his work cut out for him. But as he attempts to get the Twins back on track, he has the support of his players. "He's done it before," Span said. "The organization, I don't want to say it's in turmoil now, but it wasn't looking good in the early 2000s. He turned this franchise into a respectable club for almost a decade. There's no question that he's the guy for the job or he can do the job again."
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