Matt Guerrier departed the Twins after the 2010 season as a free agent and landed a three-year contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers. He is back this spring, trying to regain his standing as a big-league reliever after undergoing elbow surgery.
Guerrier was asked in a radio interview to react to the astounding revival within the organization of Glen Perkins, from failing as a starter at Class AAA Rochester in 2010 to being the closer and a bearded face of the franchise in the spring of 2014.
“If you had given me a list of 20 guys who were on that team, and asked me to rank them in order of likelihood that they still would be with the Twins today, Perk probably would’ve been 20th,’’ Guerrier said.
“I give credit to the organization for not giving up on him, but I give more credit to Perk for the changes he made.’’
Perkins’ big change was not the quality of pitches available in his left arm. It was in putting aside negatives and deciding to be a positive force for his ballclub, first as a pitcher and also as a personality.
There’s a similar situation today with another reliever: Anthony Swarzak.
One year ago, if an observer had submitted a list of 20 veterans who would remain with the Twins in March 2014, Swarzak probably would’ve been 20th.
Swarzak had pitched poorly (5.03 ERA in 44 appearances) for a poor pitching staff in 2012. He followed that with a broken a rib while engaging in “horseplay’’ at a party during a TwinsFest visit to Minnesota.
Swarzak opened the 2013 season on the disabled list.
The Twins’ starting pitching was bad from the get-go. The desperation for a long reliever allowed Swarzak to avoid a rehab assignment. He was activated on April 7 and worked his way to 48 appearances, 96 innings and a 2.91 ERA.
Today, he’s so slim as to be called lanky at 6 feet 4, he’s newly married and most quotes are about a fondness for the Twins and teammates.
“Swarz’’ has become the Twins’ sequel to “Perk.’’