Notes: Perkins tries to stay grounded
Twins pitcher developing sinker to cut down on fly balls
DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Left-hander Glen Perkins spent the winter working on ways he could drastically reduce one number from last season."I think I led all of organized baseball last year in fly-ball outs," Perkins said. "So I really started focusing on keeping the ball down and trying to get some ground balls." The solution for Perkins was to develop a sinker. It's a pitch that he used in his first start of the spring on Sunday in the Twins' 8-5 win over the Blue Jays. Though Perkins had thrown the pitch during his first two appearances in relief, he said it's taken some time and work with pitching coach Rick Anderson on his grip to really get comfortable with the pitch. But after his results Sunday, he feels like progress is being made. "I got a few [ground balls] today and I was encouraged by the way it was going," Perkins said. " Besides the sinker, Perkins said he has also tried getting ground balls by throwing inside more often. It worked on Sunday, as he got some ground balls by jamming a few of the hitters in what was a loaded Blue Jays lineup. "That's just as effective as throwing a good sinker," Perkins said of throwing inside. "If you throw it hard enough in and not leave it over the plate, you'll be fine." Perkins eased through most of his three-inning outing and it appeared as if he might finish by facing the minimum nine batters. But on a 2-2 count to batter Russ Adams, Perkins delivered a pitch that Adams popped up foul along the first-base line. First baseman Glen Williams lost the ball in the sky and missed making the grab, which extended the inning. One run would score before Perkins' day was over. Despite the botched play, Perkins finished the day by allowing just the one unearned run on two hits over the three innings. He struck out two in the start and demonstrated to the club that he shouldn't be overlooked in the starting race. "Glen was fantastic," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "The ball was coming out of his hand good and that's kind of what we expect out of him. He's been throwing the ball very well." After Perkins' strong debut in the Majors as part of the bullpen at the end of last season, there has been some speculation as to whether the Twins might use the lefty as another option out of the bullpen. But Gardenhire made it clear that the club views Perkins as a starter and will continue to develop him in that role. "I'm not worried about long-term and what people view him as then, because he's a starter right now," Gardenhire said. "Unless things change drastically from now to the end of Spring Training, he's going to be a starter. We need starters in this organization and we think he's going to be a very good one." All signs go: Lew Ford's arthroscopic scope on his right knee is scheduled to take place on Monday, Twins general manager Terry Ryan said Sunday. Ford traveled back to the Twin Cities with team orthopedist Dr. John Steubs, who will perform the surgery. Ryan said that Ford will be back in Fort Myers to rejoin the team on Tuesday. As for how long it will take in terms of recovery time, Ryan is optimistic that Ford will be ready on the lower end of the 4-6-week window that was given.
Welcome back: There was a familiar face standing by the Twins dugout before Sunday's game in Dunedin.Former Twins pitcher Brad Radke stopped by Knology Field to visit with his teammates and catch some of batting practice. Radke lives in nearby Clearwater, and it was the first time he had seen his former club all spring. There were plenty of hugs to go around for the player who spent 12 years with the organization, and Gardenhire even joked that he had a uniform ready to go for Radke if he felt like getting back on the field. So have there been any residual doubts about hanging up the cleats? "Not so far," Radke said with a big smile. "Life has been good." Let 'em fly: The Twins have always relied on speed and defense. And if the showcase put on by some of their young prospects Sunday is a sign of things to come, there will be plenty of speed in the club's future. Outfielder Denard Span and infielder Alexi Casilla have made a habit of showing off their running skills this spring. But it was Span who impressed the entire team bench with the motor he showed as he turned a double into a triple in the ninth inning of Sunday's game. Span ran so fast around the basepaths that his batting helmet flew off, and it earned some chiding from Gardenhire. "We need to get some Velcro for that helmet because it keeps falling off, he runs so fast," Gardenhire said with a chuckle. "Maybe we can put a spoiler on it, something to keep it on and keep the wind down." Twins tidbits: Matt Garza will back up Carlos Silva, who makes his next start on Wednesday in Tampa against the Yankees. Sidney Ponson will take the mound on Friday in Fort Lauderdale against one of his former teams, the Orioles. ... The Twins expect to make their first round of cuts in camp early this week. ... Three of the Twins' runs Sunday came off Blue Jays' closer B.J. Ryan. The Twins hit four straight singles off Ryan in his first inning of work which helped lead to the scoring outburst. Coming up: The Twins return to Fort Myers to host the Marlins in a 12:05 p.m. CT start on Monday. Boof Bonser will make his third start of the spring as faces off against Florida right-hander Sergio Mitre.
Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.