For Nancy Jones and the rest of Cesar Tovar's family, Sunday's Twins Hall of Fame ceremony brought more than just a chance to celebrate and reminisce about the Venezuelan utility player who took the field in Minnesota from 1965-72.
"The biggest thing is, it's just a sense of relief," said Jones, Tovar's daughter who lives in the Minneapolis area. "We just felt like it was coming, that it should come. It was just a sense of relief and gratitude that he just could be finally recognized for his contributions to the Twins organization. It's just immense happiness."
The Twins started their Hall of Fame in 2000, and it now stands at 37 members, with Tovar and fellow Sunday honoree Dan Gladden voted in from a 67-member committee of media, fans, club officials and previous electees. Gladden is probably the more well-known name, as he was a two-time World Series winner to bookend his 1987-91 tenure with the Twins and returned as a radio broadcaster in 2000, a role he maintains. Tovar passed away in 1994 from cancer and had a less flashy career, despite still ranking on several of the franchise record lists — including seventh in stolen bases — as well as infamously playing all nine positions in one Twins game.
His grandson, Jones' son PJ, is now a junior ballplayer at Cretin-Derham Hall and threw out a ceremonial pitch to Tony Oliva, one of his grandfather's former teammates. Tovar's son, Cesar Tovar Jr., gave a short acceptance speech on his father's behalf.
Gladden, meanwhile, was just six minutes or so shy of Justin Morneau's 2021 speech, which holds the record for longest in Twins Hall of Fame history. The Bay Area native spoke for about 23 minutes, staying true to his nature with a colorful monologue full of jabs at his former teammates, family and friends.
Both Gladden and Jones reflected on receiving calls this past winter from Rod Carew to inform them of the incoming inductions. They also realized they both share a passion for riding motorcycles. And little connections like that between the two families are what have made this weekend's festivities so memorable.
Gladden said he's enjoyed learning more about Tovar, a player he's always respected as having a similar on-field style to himself: aggressive, fast and unafraid.
"I was a fan, too, growing up because we always got, for some reason, Minnesota Twins baseball cards … and I remember having a lot of his cards," Gladden said. "And then watching some of the highlights, kind of special. He was like me in that he choked up, and I choked up when I was a young player, too.
"… I just like guys that were a little gritty and hustled. And of course, Tovar was definitely that player as well."
Garlick set for rehab assignment
Kyle Garlick has made solid progress through the past several days on his recovery from fractured cartilage in his right ribs and is gearing up to begin taking live at-bats. The outfielder, who specializes in hitting off left-handed pitchers, hasn't played since Aug. 1 but will go on a rehab assignment in the near future to prepare for his return.
"He's doing baseball activity. He's been outside. He was with Tommy [Watkins, third base coach] doing a lot of outfield work. He's moving around well, swinging the bat. So we'll take that," Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. "Those are some good steps, and I think he's on his way back."
The injury is a bit unfamiliar, so Baldelli wasn't sure if there's a way to fully heal the issue before Garlick's return or if he will just have to persevere through the pain, as one would expect for a broken rib. That also means the length of the rehab assignment will be a bit ambiguous, as the team will need to see how Garlick handles taking more and more swings before fully deciding.
The Twins also shared some other injury updates on a few players in Fort Meyers, Fla., who are tracking toward September returns. Kenta Maeda, who had Tommy John surgery almost a year ago, is throwing 30-pitch bullpens with all his pitches, reaching velocities between 87-90 mph. He will see his surgeon again Tuesday to gain clearance for live throwing, with his first live bullpen scheduled for the following week.
Fellow pitcher Bailey Ober is doing full-effort bullpens and has a live session set for Aug. 22. He's been out since June 1 with a right groin strain. Outfielder Trevor Larnach, who had surgery on a core muscle injury at the end of June, is also taking live BPs and sprinting at full speed.