"They could've easily told me to take a hike and thrown me to the curb," said Allen as he fought back tears. "They probably saved my life by putting me into that program at Hazelden Betty Ford. For that, I thank them from the bottom of my heart, and I mean that sincerely."
Allen, 58, said the charges are still pending, and that everything is in the hands of his lawyer. He added he wasn't sure if his court date will come during or after the season. But he felt the arrest could've been a blessing in disguise, because he could've hurt himself or others driving that night, and it opened his eyes to his struggles with alcoholism.
"Alcoholism is a disease," Allen said. "Unfortunately, it doesn't just go away because you've been dry for 22 years. It was one of the worst nights of my life. One of the toughest things I've had to do in the last five weeks was talk to my son and talk to these guys today. It was a humiliating time. It was an embarrassing time. But it can happen, and it did."
Allen was welcomed back by the team in a pregame meeting and said several coaches and players kept in contact with him while he was suspended. Twins manager Paul Molitor said he texted with Allen nearly every day, and he was happy to have him back. But he also made sure to thank Eric Rasmussen for his work as pitching coach in Allen's absence. Rasmussen returned to his role as the organization's Minor League pitching coordinator.
"The team had a protocol, and [Allen] followed it to a T," Molitor said. "We've talked more specifically about his return the last 10 days. It's a really good thing to have Neil rejoin the team. But I have to credit Raz for handling everything as professionally as he did for the last six weeks, keeping the ship sailing as far as our pitching staff. But Neil is back where he's supposed to be."
Allen also said that Minnesota's struggles on the field had nothing to do with his urge to drink -- the Twins were 12-34 at the time of his arrest -- and that he had been dealing with the urge for nearly six months before finally giving in that night.
But Allen feels, with what he learned in the program, more equipped to deal with his alcoholism going forward. Allen, who lost his wife to an aneurysm in 2012, has his 17-year-old son, Bobby, with him on the trip to Texas, and they'll spend the All-Star break together at their home in Sarasota, Fla.
"It was one time and the first time in 22 years, but there were signs," Allen said. "Baseball had nothing to do with it. There was a lot going on. For about six months, there were signs even this winter where I'd think about drinking. For 21 years, I hadn't even thought of it. Somewhere along the line, there was a breakdown, and why I even thought of it, I have no idea.
"But in the program, I learned about those signs and how to deal with them if they ever happen again. So now I have avenues to deal with that."