Minnesota Twins Opening Day Countdown: 38, Rick Aguilera

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The Minnesota Twins are just 38 days away from Opening Day in Baltimore. As we near that day, here is more Twins history related to that number.

The Minnesota Twins are preparing for a 2018 season with expectation after making the playoffs in 2017 as a Wild Card team. We will highlight numbers from team history that represent the number of days until Opening Day on March 29th in Baltimore.

As many of my generation, when I started to follow a winning Twins teams in the early 2000’s. Even as Eddie Guardado took the reigns as closer there was still one name that was synonymous with the Twins closer role. That one name is today’s spotlight player who wore the number 38, Rick Aguilera.

Aguilera was drafted by the New York Mets in the 3rd round of 1983 draft. Aguilera debuted with the Mets on June 12, 1985, where he finished out an extra-inning game pitching two innings and allowing no runs. Aguilera began his career as a starter and was eventually moved to the bullpen. The Mets tried against Aguilera’s wishes using him in a long-relief role which caused him to demand for a trade during the 1989 season.

Aguilera’s demands and an injury to Dwight Gooden resulted in a trade that sent Aguilera with Kevin Tapani, David West, Tim Drummond and Jack Savage to the Twins in exchange for Frank Viola. At the start of Aguilera’s time with the Twins he went back to the starting rotation. Then in 1990 Aguilera was moved into the closer’s role for the Twins and the rest was history.

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In that first season as closer, Aguilera saved 32 games, held a 2.76 ERA, and an 8.4 K/9. Then in 1991, he followed up his solid season with 42 saves and a 2.35 ERA over 69 innings of work. Those 42 saves in a season set a franchise record that would stand until broken by Guardado in 2002. That season also resulted in his first of three All-Star appearances for the closer.

As the Twins went onto win the World Series in 1991, Aguilera contributed by finishing 7 games recording 5 saves and a win with a 1.08 ERA. Aguilera would continue to perform well, but the Twins as a team didn’t, resulting in his trade to the Boston Red Sox mid-season 1995.

Aguilera would return to Minnesota the following season as a free agent and pitch four more seasons for the Twins until he would finish his career with the Chicago Cubs in 1999 and 2000. Over his time with the Twins, Aguilera saved 254 games placing him second all-time for the club just behind Joe Nathan‘s 260 saves.

Next: Is it time for the Twins to extend Joe Mauer

Aguilera will forever hold a special place in Twins history due to great career numbers and his role on that 1991 World Series team. As we await Opening Day we celebrate #38, Rick Aguilera.

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