More mature Perkins has new outlook
Lefty is fighting for a spot in the starting rotation
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- There is a new perspective that Glen Perkins has brought to Spring Training this year.Whether it's pitching as a starter or reliever, starting the year in the Majors or at Triple-A Rochester, Perkins now seems content to leave his fate in the hands of the Twins front office. It's a far different approach than the one Perkins held just a year ago. That's when after a good spring in his first big league camp, Perkins was told that he would start the 2006 season in Double-A New Britain -- the same place he had finished the previous season. The move was something that Perkins, 24, took as a step back and he admits that his attitude toward the decision was the wrong way to approach it. But now looking back at where he's gone in the past year from starting in Double-A to making the Twins playoff roster as a reliever, Perkins has a new respect for the decisions that were made. "Hind sight is always 20/20," Perkins said after his outing on Thursday. "I'm going to trust that their foresight is as good as my hindsight." There is a maturity that has developed in Perkins over the last year. From suffering the ups and downs in Double-A as he went 4-11 with a 3.91 ERA in 23 starts, to reaching the big leagues at the end of the year, to becoming a first-time father this past offseason, Perkins has grown up as both a pitcher and as a person. And that's evident in the way he talks about the lessons he's learned. "I think I went into last season with the attitude that I should be in Triple-A," Perkins said. "But how I finished last season and how I ended up just shows that you have to put your faith in them. They know what's best for you. If they wouldn't have done exactly what they did with me last year, I wouldn't be here right now in the capacity that I am." The role that Perkins is now battling for is a starting spot in the Twins rotation. But it's a unique situation that Perkins finds himself in, like some of the other young arms, as he's trying to earn that role by backing up other starters. Having spent some time in the bullpen for the Twins at the end of last season and even in the playoffs, the role is nothing new for Perkins. He's had success doing it again this spring as he followed up Ramon Ortiz's start Thursday with a strong outing of his own as he pitched two perfect innings while striking out half the batters he faced.
What the Twins saw out of Perkins in this latest performance Thursday was a pitcher that could be an asset either in a starting role or as a reliever. With an improved curveball and a new diving sinker, Perkins now has a look of a pitcher that can be used to get lefties out. And it certainly left an impression on the Twins coaching staff."Perkins was yowzer," Gardenhire said, as his eyes grew a bit wide talking about it. "If we ever got where we were beating the heck out of [lefty reliever Dennys Reyes] and Perkins wasn't with us at the time [as a starter], he could be a guy you could really count on to come in and do that for awhile. That breaking ball he's starting to throw and the ball diving in on lefties, he can probably be a pretty good complement if you really wanted to go that way." There could be temptation to go that way with just one lefty currently in the Twins bullpen but right now the club views Perkins as a starter and that's the role he will continue to pitch in for the rest of spring. It's hard to discount Perkins from the starting race either, considering the way that he's been throwing this spring. After a bit of a shaky start, Perkins has rebounded to establish a 2.00 ERA over his four outings. One of those included a strong start against a talent-laden Blue Jays lineup where he gave up just one unearned run on two hits over three innings. But even if Perkins does not end up on the 25-man roster, he knows that his opportunity could be just on the horizon. That's why he's willing to take whatever assignment the Twins send his way, keeping in mind the lessons he's learned over the past year. "They used 10 starters last year and though they'll break camp with five, the chances are they'll use 10 if not more this year," Perkins said. "There is going to be guys that have a chance and if I end up in Triple-A, I want to pitch as well as I can and be that first guy when they need someone."
Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.