MINNEAPOLIS -- Legends in the Twins organization aren't hard to find, but if there is one man who truly symbolizes what it means to be a Minnesota Twin, it would be Jim Rantz. The Twins honored Rantz, their long-standing Minor League director, by inducting him into the Twins Hall of Fame on Saturday night during a pregame ceremony. Rantz is the longest-tenured Minor League director currently in the game, having held the position since 1986. That appointment followed nearly 21 years in the organization after joining the front-office staff in an internship role just before the '65 World Series. And before that, the St. Paul native had spent five years as a pitcher for the club, having been signed by the Washington Senators in 1960, a year before the club moved to Minnesota.
It was clear from the emotion shown by Rantz during the ceremony that the induction meant a lot to him. He was joined on Saturday night for the ceremony by his wife Pearl, their four children and eight grandchildren. The 69-year-old had been informed of the honor during the team's Diamond Awards in late January and said he still couldn't quite believe that it had indeed become reality. "It's been an incredible past three months for the Rantz family, and hearing my name with the words 'Hall of Fame inductee' still backs me up," Rantz said. "I'm honored and humbled to be included in this group." A man who is beloved throughout the organization, from front-office staff to the coaches to the players, Rantz has earned the respect of many. That includes some of the other members of the Twins Hall of Fame who were in attendance for the ceremony on Saturday, including Tony Oliva, Kent Hrbek, Bert Blyleven, Tom Kelly, Harmon Killebrew and Rod Carew. It was Kelly who got the honor of introducing Rantz to the packed Metrodome crowd. And the former Twins manager spoke of the man he considers a dear friend and an important figure in the organization's history. "The people that he's brought through the Minor League system here, the players he's developed and watched over through the years, have been invaluable to our success," Kelly said. "He's the consummate Twins fan and Twins employee." As part of the ceremony, Rantz also delivered the first pitch to Francisco Liriano, who two years ago received the Jim Rantz Award, an honor recognizing the top pitcher in the Twins' farm system. Almost ready: Michael Cuddyer's back was feeling better on Saturday, and he felt like he would be ready to return to the lineup for Tuesday's game against the White Sox. Cuddyer was expected to do some light jogging and throwing on Saturday, but he will wait to hit until Sunday. The team's off-day on Monday will give Cuddyer another chance to rest. "I'm pretty confident I'll be able to make it by Tuesday," Cuddyer said. "It feels a lot better today." Twins tidbits: Dennys Reyes (tendinitis in his left shoulder) was able to throw before Saturday's game, but he will not be available to pitch in the game. Gardenhire expects Reyes to be available for Sunday's contest. Lew Ford (knee surgery to repair torn meniscus) continues to make progress during his rehab stint with Triple-A Rochester. Ford has appeared in six games, hitting .217 (5-for-23) with four RBIs and two runs scored. There still is no set date for his return, but Gardenhire said the club is getting closer and more could be known about his status after this weekend. Down on the farm: Dave Gassner gave up seven runs on 10 hits in 3 2/3 innings as Triple-A Rochester lost at Columbus, 7-2, on Friday night. ... Felix Molina and Brian Buscher each delivered an RBI in Double-A New Britain's 2-1 victory over Trenton. Brian Duensing pitched eight innings and allowed just one run on four hits. ... Angel Garcia gave up five runs on three hits in 1 2/3 innings as Class A Fort Myers lost to Tampa, 7-1. ... Allan de San Miguel went 2-for-4 with three RBIs in Class A Beloit's 6-3 win at Great Lakes. Coming up: The Twins close out their series with the Red Sox on Sunday afternoon in a 1:10 p.m. CT start. Twins right-hander Sidney Ponson will make his first outing against Boston since he gave up seven runs in three innings to them in his final start before he was cut by the Yankees last August. Ponson will have quite a challenge as he faces Red Sox ace Curt Schilling.
Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.