Powers: Twins' Perkins rising fast and going nowhere
By Tom Powers
St. Paul Pioneer Press
FORT MYERS, Fla. — Glen Perkins, the accidental closer, has generated his share of spring training headlines over the years.
A quick check of the story archives confirms that a recurring banner often was: “Perkins Roughed Up.” That’s not to be confused with the equally recurring: “Perkins Roughed Up … Again.”
It wasn’t all that long ago that Perkins was a struggling starter. He had a bum shoulder and, according to several people of authority in the organization, a bum attitude. But Perkins sort of slid into the bullpen and then into the set-up role. Before long, he was working the ninth inning, almost by default.
Yet he began to develop into an elite closer during the second half of 2012 and completed the metamorphosis in 2013. And Friday, he signed a contract extension that will keep him with the Twins at least through 2017. Not many of us saw this coming early in his career.
“No, I thought he was going to be a starter and give us 180 to 200 innings every year,” said assistant general manager Rob Antony. “I guess anything is possible. There are so many things that happen in this game. He found his niche and he found his role and he’s very good at it. It’s all worked out just fine.”
“You just never know,” Perkins said. “You never know what’s going to happen. You keep playing and hope that with some hard work and good luck, good things will happen. I would like to think that I wanted to have a successful career and that I’m on that road. You want to be able to play in the big leagues, and I wanted to be able to play in the big leagues with the Twins.”
Perkins, 31, was playing on an extension that had him signed through 2015, but he clearly couldn’t bear the thought of playing anywhere else after that. Out of Stillwater High and the University of Minnesota, Perkins recently began researching the financial market for closers. He put together some figures, handed them to his agent and told him to present them to the Twins and ask for an extension.
The numbers not only were reasonable for a top-shelf closer, but we might also say he gave Minnesota a bit of a hometown discount.
“I approached them because I wanted to be here, and I want to make that clear first and foremost,” he said. “I grew up in Minnesota, and there’s nowhere else I’ve ever wanted to play.”
Well, that’s the type of attitude on which the Pohlad family fortune was built. Quality at a discount? Don’t let him get away!
The deal pays Perkins $22.175 million over the next four years, which is an awful lot by real-people standards but a tepid figure for a man in his position.
“That’s more money than I’m going to ever need,” said Perkins, his Minnesota values on display for the world to see. “It’s not about that. It’s about being here and being home.”
Anyway, it was a long way from there to here. He was feuding with the organization as recently as 2010, filing a grievance over service time. He also was unhappy with how the Twins handled his injured shoulder. And the Twins were unhappy that their doctors were questioned — even though they should have been used to it. There was an icy silence for about a year.
But when he moved to the bullpen full time in 2011, the skies opened and the angels sang. He was able to rear back and bring the heat. His shoulder stopped bothering him and he made it a point to patch things up with the organization. Perkins really does want to play in his home state and realized he was in danger of being sent packing.
The only problem here, obviously, is that the Twins lose so many games that they need a closer about as much as a normal human needs an appendix. They’re usually trailing 9-1 going into the ninth.
“But I believe in what we’re doing,” Perkins said. “We went out this winter and we got pitching, and we’ve got guys coming up. And we have some guys here that are pretty darn good. In the terms of this contract, we are going to be a successful team.”
So local boy makes good. Glen Perkins gets to play for the home team for a very long time. He capped his day by pitching a scoreless inning, with two strikeouts, against the Orioles at Hammond Stadium.
“My spring hasn’t been what I wanted it to be, and I knew what we were about to do,” he noted. “So I couldn’t go out there today and not do extra well.”
The Pioneer Press is a media partner with Forum News Service.