MINNEAPOLIS (AP) Rick Aguilera, Minnesota's franchise leader in saves, was inducted into the Twins' hall of fame before Saturday's game. Acquired from the New York Mets in 1989 with four other players for pitcher Frank Viola, Aguilera compiled 254 saves for Minnesota until he was traded to the Chicago Cubs in 1999. He arrived as a starter, but then-manager Tom Kelly decided to move the right-hander to the bullpen in 1990. Kelly described to the crowd at the Metrodome a rather efficient conversation he used to relay the news.
"I told him, 'You're going to be the closer next year,' and then I hung up the phone," Kelly said.
Aguilera, who lives in California with his wife and two children, turned to Kelly during part of his remarks.
"I thank you for your patience. ... I thank you for helping me be confident," Aguilera said.
Aguilera had 42 saves and a 2.35 ERA in 1991, when the Twins went on to win the World Series. Current Twins manager Ron Gardenhire remembered a time when Aguilera was away from the team for the birth of his child and greeted the plane at the airport with cigars for everyone.
"I thought that was pretty amazing, and that pretty much sums up what he was all about," Gardenhire said this week.
Dressed in a black suit, Aguilera minus the trademark black beard he had throughout his career threw the first pitch to current Twins closer Joe Nathan. Nathan has 178 saves, 76 behind Aguilera.