Perkins and Neshek: 1 win, 1 loss, both thrilled
By John Shipley
St. Paul Pioneer Press
MINNEAPOLIS — Glen Perkins and Pat Neshek, Minnesota natives and former Twins teammates who chose different paths when butting heads with management over injuries, were reunited in the boxscore Tuesday at the All-Star Game at Target Field.
Neshek, the St. Louis Cardinals reliever waived by the Twins in 2011, was tagged with the loss in the American League’s 5-3 victory after giving up two earned runs on three hits in the fifth inning of his first all-star appearance.
Perkins, who mended fences with the Twins in 2010 and has since signed two contract extensions, earned the save with a 1-2-3 ninth inning in his second All-Star Game. Fans serenaded him with chants of “Let’s Go, Perkins!”
A Stillwater native who played baseball at Minnesota, he clearly was thrilled afterward.
“It was unbelievable and jeez, I don’t even know,” he said at his postgame press conference. “I’m at a loss for words. I’m not usually at a loss of words, but I am now.”
On a roster filled with good stories, Neshek’s was one of the best, making his first All-Star Game at 33 after having his career derailed for two years by Tommy John surgery in 2008. He’s 4-0 with a league-best 0.70 earned-run average.
Neshek still has some anger at the Twins after they waived him following a dispute over a finger injury in 2011 spring training, but the Brooklyn Park native was delighted to be back and received one of the warmest receptions of the game.
“I was overwhelmed,” he said. “I didn’t expect that.”
In the visiting locker room after the game, Neshek was still too happy with the entire all-star experience to be upset by the loss. Surrounded by family after flying in Sunday night, he was running on fumes when NL manager Mike Matheny — his St. Louis skipper — brought him in to pitch the fifth.
“I wasn’t so much nervous. In fact, I was really relaxed,” Neshek said. “Maybe that was the problem. My stuff was terrible; my fastball was barely breaking 90 out there, and it just felt weird out there — different catcher, different guys running around. I’m kind of glad it’s over.”
Perkins, who didn’t get to pitch in last year’s All-Star Game at Citi Field in New York, knew he would pitch in a save situation and spent three long innings waiting for his chance after the AL took the lead on MVP Mike Trout’s RBI double off Neshek.
“Coming in (from the bullpen), you know, the first thing I told myself when I got on the field was, ‘Slow down,’ which usually is not a problem for me jogging in,” he said. “And I felt like I ran a little too fast. I knew I had a lot of time, and I said, ‘Take some time between warm-up pitches.’
“I couldn’t do that, so I had to stand on the mound for 45 seconds or whatever.”
The game, Perkins said, met “my expectations and more.”
Asked if he felt bad for his former teammate, Perkins said, “You know, no.”
“He got the chance to come pitch in front of the fans, you know, that watched him when he was here,” he continued. “And I’m sure they’re a very good team; I am sure they wanted to win the game, but it didn’t work out that way. (For Neshek), I think the experience of it is more important than the result. I think getting on that mound, the chance that he got to go out and throw is the neatest thing.
“And I watched him when he came off the field; he got high-fives from his teammates, and that’s more what it is about than if you win or lose.”
After the game, a reporter started to ask Neshek, “If someone told you, when you were young, that you would pitch in a major league All-Star Game in Minnesota …”
Without missing a beat, Neshek said, “And take the loss?”
After the laughter died down, he said, “I’d take it.”
The Pioneer Press is a media partner with Forum News Service.