Former teammates Oliva, Carew join Twins on West Coast road trip
ANAHEIM, Calif. — It has been nearly 30 years since Tony Oliva joined the Twins for a road trip.
And before it ended, he was already planning far, far in advance for his next trip.
“If we make it to the playoffs and World Series and they invited me, I would be glad to go,” the Twins legend said. “Any time they invite me, I’m willing to go.”
For now, Oliva started with the past week’s seven-game swing out to Seattle and Anaheim.
The second part of the trip, Oliva’s good friend and former teammate, Rod Carew, joined the Twins. He lives in the area.
“Getting a chance to spend some time with Rod is … very important to Tony, and also us,” said Twins manager Rocco Baldelli, who extended the invitation. “So we wanted to make sure, if we could make that happen, that we did.”
Oliva, 80, and Carew, 73, spent some time with each other in late April when Oliva made the trip out to Los Angeles for MLB’s FoodFest where “Tony O’s Cuban Sandwich” was on display.
On that trip, Carew showed his friend around Laguna Beach and the coast in hopes of getting him to come back in August to participate in a charity golf tournament.
“He says, ‘I didn’t know California was so beautiful!’ ” Carew recalled.
The two haven’t done much sightseeing around California on this trip, though they have enjoyed their time together at the park spent watching the Twins.
The pair also spent plenty of time together this spring, constantly together at the team’s complex in Fort Myers, Fla.
“I was his caddie. I was his taxi. Every morning, I’d pick him up and take him to the park and take him home,” Carew said. “What we did in spring training is showing its fruition now that the season’s started. These guys are good together, and they play well together.”
Oliva’s career stretched from 1962-76, all with the Twins, while Carew played for the Twins from 1967-78.
For 11 years, Oliva said, the two were roommates, and their special bond is not lost on those around them.
“LaTroy Hawkins looked at me one time and he says, ‘You and Tony — that’s Torii Hunter and I about 10 years from now,’ ” Carew said.
And it’s certainly not lost on Baldelli, either.
“They’ve been here since Day One, and having them in spring training was, I think, an important thing for our guys — staff and players,” Baldelli said. “And then having them around this trip, it’s very special because it means a lot to everyone here. But you also know by watching them, watching them interact, how much it means to them, so it’s pretty cool.”
Nelson Cruz, who is on the Injured List and is eligible to return on Friday, flew back to Minnesota ahead of the team, as did Jose Berrios, Friday’s starting pitcher. ... Twins No. 3 prospect Brusdar Graterol, their top pitching prospect, was at Target Field on Thursday, posting pictures from his trip on his Instagram and sending Twins fans into a mini-frenzy on social media. “We have a number of minor league players coming to Minnesota this year for evaluations. We aren’t going to get into specifics on each individual player,” a Twins spokesman said.