MINNEAPOLIS -- Success, they say, is the best revenge, and if Martin Perez didn’t exactly have revenge on his mind, he had something to prove to the Texas Rangers in his first opportunity to face his former team.
Beating them was a big deal for the Twins right-hander, and he wasn’t shy about saying so after the 15-6 victory at Target Field on Friday. A day later, he was even more forthcoming.
“One thing I was able to show to the Texas organization,” Perez said Saturday, “was they made the wrong decision, you know?”
After an offseason injury involving a bull on his Venezuela ranch, Perez struggled for the Rangers in 2018. After 13 mostly rough starts (3-10, 6.95 earned-run average), he was sent to the bullpen on Aug. 31. He pitched better there, but in his last two appearances he had a blown save and, in a late start, loss.
Though he was still only 27 at the time, and a solid major league starter for parts of six season for Texas (41-42, 4.43 ERA), the Rangers declined team options for 2019-20 worth $17.5 million, paid him a $1 million buyout and sent him into free agency.
“There were a lot of people who didn’t believe in me when I was there, so doing what I did last night, I was able to show a lot of people in that organization that the decision they made was wrong,” he said.
“I know it’s a business, and I’m not taking it personally, because I’m a professional and I understand it. The organization has more people – Double-A, Triple-A — and they give you a chance to come up and do the job and pitch in major league baseball. They did the same for me.
“But I think the way that they made the decisions, when they told me they wouldn’t pick up my option it was not easy for me. When they told me that, I was surprised, because I’d been there for 11 years.”
With the all-star break starting Monday, Perez has proven to be one of several good moves for Twins chief baseball officer Derek Falvey and general manager Thad Levine. After pitching six scoreless innings on Friday, he’s 8-3 with a 4.26 ERA, his best start since making his major league debut in 2012 as a 21-year-old. The Twins are paying him $4 million this season and have a team option worth $7.5 million.
If the season ended now, it would be a no-brainer for both sides.
“I’m good, and I have to say thank you to all the front office because they believed me when I needed them to believe me,” Perez said. “When it was time to believe me, they believed me. But everything continues and you have to stay focused. I have to stick with my plan and give my teammates a chance to win a game every time I go out there.”
LaMonte Wade Jr. had his dislocated right thumb popped back into place on Saturday night after injuring it while chasing Elvis Andrus’ home run in a 7-4 victory over the Rangers.
How did that go?
“Uh, not fun,” he said. “I had two numbing needles and then they popped it back in.”
Wade was wearing a metal brace on the thumb when he relived the moment with teammates before Sunday’s matinee against the Rangers. He was hurt when his glove got stuck between the chain-link fence and padding in the bullpen in left-center.
“When I looked down for a second, I realized it wasn’t going the right way, and then I know when (center fielder Byron) Buxton came over and he looked at it and looked away real quick, I knew that something was up.”
LaMonte was placed on the 10-day injured list but isn’t expected back any time soon. The good news is he can’t be optioned back to Triple-A Rochester while injured, which certainly would have happened with the all-star break starting Monday. He also drew a walk and scored his first major league run in Saturday’s game.
“I was a part of my first major league win, too, so that was cool,” he said. “It was a good and bad day.”
The Twins have yet to finalize a pitching rotation for a big series at Cleveland starting Friday. “We have some ideas,” manager Rocco Baldelli said. “We don’t have anything to announce yet.” One obvious reason is that Minnesota doesn’t know whether RHP Jake Odorizzi, on the injured list with a blister, will be ready to pitch after the break. … LF Eddie Rosario, the team’s RBI leader with 60, took batting practice on the field before Sunday’s game and expressed hope that he will return from a left ankle sprain for the Indians series.