It was 1990. Jeff Reardon was gone, having signed with the Red Sox. The Twins needed a closer and picked Rick Aguilera.
He earned saves in his first two appearances that season. Twins manager Tom Kelly turned to Aguilera in the 12th inning on April 14 after the Twins took a 5-4 lead at California.
Then came the harsh reality of life as a closer. Aguilera remembers the game vividly.
"We had walked Chili Davis to put him on so I could face Dante Bichette," Aguilera said. "And I hung a 0-2 slider.''
Bichette hit a walk-off homer. Aguilera's first blown save as a Twin was painful.
"I remember walking in behind Gary Gaetti, and I remember him just tossing his glove in frustration,'' Aguilera said.
Aguilera, who will be inducted into the Twins Hall of Fame before tonight's game against Arizona, converted his next nine save opportunities, establishing a pattern of bouncing back after the painful blown saves. He racked up 254 saves as a Twin from 1989 to '99 and was the epitome of reliability.
Aguilera came to the Twins in 1989 as part of the Frank Viola trade. He was supposed to enter the rotation but became a closer out of necessity.
"I enjoyed being a closer because I came to the park every day knowing I had the opportunity to pitch," he said. "So with that came a little more discipline, making sure I wasn't out late at night, taking care of my body and resting."
Aguilera is now 46, and his trademark manicured black beard is a salt-and-pepper goatee. While Aguilera spoke Friday of the relationships he was able to build with teammates, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said Aguilera always was known for being a classy guy.
Gardenhire told a story about how Aguilera left the team to go to California and be with his wife as she gave birth to one of their two children. The Twins just happened to fly to California for a series with the Angels right after the birth.
"He met us at the airport as we were coming off the plane and handed us cigars," Gardenhire said. "I'd never seen that before. That was pretty good."Two catchers
Gardenhire decided to start Mike Redmond at designated hitter against Arizona lefthander Randy Johnson on Friday while Joe Mauer started at catcher. It gave Gardenhire the option of pinch running for Redmond late in the game and not being stuck for a catcher.
"When you're thin, you're thin,'' Gardenhire said. "So you might as well get thinner.''
Mauer entered the game 0-for-3 with two strikeouts against Johnson. Redmond was batting .263 against Johnson.Why so thin?
Twins outfielder Michael Cuddyer missed Friday's game to be with his wife, Claudia, and newborn son Casey Jonathan Cuddyer, who entered the world at 3:23 p.m. at Fairview Southdale Hospital. Casey weighed 7 pounds, 8 ounces and was 20 inches long.
Craig Monroe started in right field. Cuddyer is expected to be in the lineup tonight.Gardy and Gibby
Gardenhire was disappointed to learn that the Blue Jays fired his friend John Gibbons as manager Friday. But Gardenhire said Gibbons knew he was on the hot seat a month ago.
"He told me about rumblings and all those things," Gardenhire said. "He was hoping to hang on, but it was going to be a tough go. But they really didn't get going."
|Tampa Bay - LP: C. Archer||1||FINAL|
|Boston - WP: A. Aceves||5|
|NY Mets - WP: M. Harvey||4||FINAL|
|Atlanta - LP: A. Wood||3|
|Washington||1||Top 4th Inning|
|Kansas City||2||Top 7th Inning|
|Colorado||3||Bottom 7th Inning|
|Baltimore||5||Bottom 6th Inning|
|NY Mets||0||Top 7th Inning|
|Pittsburgh||3||Bottom 6th Inning|
|Oakland||3||Bottom 3rd Inning|
|Tampa Bay||0||Bottom 4th Inning|
|Chicago WSox||2||Top 3rd Inning|
|Milwaukee||1||Top 3rd Inning|
|Chicago Cubs||4||Bottom 3rd Inning|
|Miami - N. Eovaldi||8:40 PM|
|Arizona - R. Delgado|
|Seattle - J. Bonderman||9:05 PM|
|LA Angels - J. Blanton|
|San Diego - A. Cashner||9:15 PM|
|San Francisco - M. Cain|
|San Antonio||8:00 PM|
|Montreal||6/20/13 6:00 PM|
|Winnipeg||6/20/13 6:00 PM|
|Calgary||6/20/13 9:00 PM|
|Edmonton||6/21/13 9:00 PM|
Poll: Who will end up starting more games for the Vikings this season?