Terry Ryan to replace Bill Smith

MINNEAPOLIS — In a surprising move, Terry Ryan has assumed the role of Twins general manager, replacing Bill Smith effectively immediately, the club announced today.

“No one in the Twins’ organization wants to win any more than Bill,” Twins owner and CEO Jim Pohlad said in a statement. “He is unquestionably loyal, committed and talented. The Twins goal is to get better in 2012 and beyond. Bill was equally motivated to achieve that goal but we differed in the scope and approach that was required. Going forward, we intend to have additional discussions with Bill about an ongoing role within the organization. We wish Bill, Becky and the entire Smith family nothing but the best.

“We are fortunate and grateful for Terry Ryan’s willingness to step in as interim general manager,” Pohlad continued.

Smith, 53, began his career in the Twins organization in 1986 and was named the fourth general manager in Minnesota’s history on Sept. 13, 2007.

The Twins won two American League Central Division titles (2009-10) under Smith and narrowly missed another chance at the postseason when they lost in a dramatic Game 163 to the White Sox in ’08. But the club never won a postseason game during his tenure, and lost 99 games last season.

“Working for the Minnesota Twins for the past 26 seasons has been the greatest professional privilege I could have ever imagined,” Smith said in a statement. “I will be forever grateful to the Pohlad family for the many wonderful opportunities they have provided to me, including the chance to sit in the General Manager’s chair for the past four seasons. My thanks and admiration to each of the wonderfully talented people with whom I have worked, and to Tom Kelly, Ron Gardenhire, their hard-working coaches & trainers and a large group of players who always represent the Minnesota Twins on the field and in the community better than any team in Baseball! Finally, it gives me great pleasure to hand this baton back to the best baseball man I have ever known, Terry Ryan.”

Ryan, who has spent more than 28 years in the Twins organization as a Minor League player or executive, returns to the role of the general manager, a post he held for 13 years (‘94-‘07).

Ryan, 58, will also be responsible for helping find a replacement general manager, as it’s unknown how long Ryan will serve as interim GM.

“As we move ahead, I’m looking forward to the challenge of improving this club for 2012 and beyond,” Ryan said in a statement. “We have many assets in place including a strong front office, manager, coaching staff and returning core of players. We have a lot of work to do in relation to development of our roster, but I’m optimistic in our collective abilities to ensure the future on-field success of this franchise.”

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