Hall of Famer Rod Carew touched by Twins' tribute on 1st day

FORT MYERS, Fla. (AP) Hall of Famer Rod Carew reached his goal of attending the Minnesota Twins first full day of spring training, five months after a massive heart attack.

He couldn't have been more touched by what he saw when he walked into the clubhouse.

The players and staff surprised him. They were all were wearing red T-shirts with a white-shaped heart in the center and the words ''Heart of 29'' in the middle.

''It's funny. My wife knew about this, and I didn't,'' he said.

Carew was especially happy the Twins are helping educate folks to get their hearts checked.

''It's been great what they've been doing,'' he said. ''The more that we can get to people, I think, the more lives we have a chance of saving.''

Carew was holding back tears as he watched Twins players stretch on the field before workouts. He says he didn't ''want to get emotional on the baseball field because there's no crying in baseball.''

The 70-year-old Carew wears a battery pack and says he hopes to have a new heart in four months.

Manager Paul Molitor said it won't be the last time people will see the T-shirts.

''We'll keep these around,'' he said. ''I won't be surprised if we see them under the uniforms of our players.''

During the workout, Carew spent time in the batting cages, talking to some of the players before he walked onto the field at Hammond Stadium. When he got there, he was greeted by recently retired outfielder Torii Hunter, and the pair hung out behind the cage.

''Rod means a lot to this organization,'' Hunter said. ''For me, as a young kid, I had a chance to hang out with Rod. He helped me out in so many different ways. I really appreciate him and love him, have the utmost respect. When this happens to someone you love, it's devastating.''

Before the workouts began, Carew couldn't help joke he might try to teach some of the young players how to drag bunt, turning into his left-handed hitter's stance and taking a few steps, looking like he was heading out of a batter's box.

''No drag bunts,'' he said after the workouts ended. ''Not yet anyway.''

SI Apps
We've Got Apps Too
Get expert analysis, unrivaled access, and the award-winning storytelling only SI can provide—from Peter King, Tom Verducci, Lee Jenkins, Andy Staples, Grant Wahl, and more—delivered straight to you, along with up-to-the-minute news and live scores.