Over this past weekend, I was in Cedar Rapids to watch the Kernels play. On Saturday night, the Kernels and their fans celebrated Twins Night. TC Bear was in attendance, but the headliner was Twins legend and Hall of Famer Rod Carew. After signing autographs for fans and joining the radio broadcast for two innings, Carew talked to the media.
In Part 1
of that interview, Carew shared his thoughts on his playing career. In Part 2
, Carew provided his thoughts on working with today's players. In Part 3 today, Carew talked about various topics from his relationship with Tony Gwynn to his most recent conversation with Aaron Hicks.
Carew talked about being very excited to work with the Twins, with Tony Oliva and Joe Mauer, during the upcoming All-Star festivities at Target Field. “It’s a great stadium, they did a heck of a job building the stadium. I know that the Twins are going to do a great job in representing the organization and baseball.”
He was also asked about his thoughts on Tony Gwynn who just recently passed away. “Very, very upsetting. Tony and I are very good friends. When I was traded to California, he and I became very good friends. We spent time together during spring training. We always talked about hitting. He always wanted to talk to me about hitting. Over the years that I was out there, we just became very good friends. I would call him and talk to him about coming down to the University to help him with the guys. He always wanted me to do that. He was a guy with a big heart. He had a big heart, always willing to help people. He reminds me so much of Harmon, a very humble person away from the baseball field. He would talk to anyone, just like Tony Oliva. Those guys have that kind of personality that you can walk up to them and talk to them about anything and they’re going to take the time to do so.”
Aaron Hicks said at Twins Fest that he spends a lot of time talking to Carew, working out and hitting with him, in the offseason in Southern California. He said during spring training that he talks to him frequently throughout the season as well.
I asked Carew if he had talked to Aaron Hicks recently, and how he was doing. Carew noted, “Aaron Hicks, to me, is one of the most talented kids in the organization. I hate to see that talent go to waste. I just spoke to him and chewed him out. I told him, 'you can have all the talent in the world. I’ve seen players with your talent, but if you don’t learn how to play the game, understand the game, and you’re not willing to work hard and get better, then you’re just going to be in the minor leagues.' I had a very father-son talk with him.”
He was also asked for his thoughts on the prevalance in shifts in the game today. He said, “I’ll tell you. It’s working out. I know they couldn’t put the shift on me when I played because they didn’t know where I was going to hit the ball. But, hitters have to understand that if they’re going to play a shift on you, you’ve got to try to make an adjustment where you can take the ball to the opposite field. If you want to keep pulling the ball and hitting into outs, then you’re going to have 0-3 or 0-4 days. They have to start making adjustments to take the ball the other way.”
So, who in today’s game reminds Carew of himself? “One of the kids that I really admired since he came up was Derek Jeter. He used the whole field to hit. Played the game the same way every single day. The kid that I look at now is Mike Trout. The same demeanor, comes out every day, plays hard, has a smile on his face, and has a good time when he’s out there.”
It was truly an honor to get to interview Rod Carew. He proved himself to be a true gentleman. As always if you have any questions or comments, please feel free to discuss.
Carew photo from AP.