The bullpen gate opened Thursday, Johnny Cash began playing over the PA system at Target Field, and much of the crowd rose to its feet, cheering.
And suddenly, Glen Perkins felt 11 years younger and 400 games less experienced.
“It felt like a major league debut, but different,” the three-time All-Star, former closer and longtime convalescent said. “The emotions were there. The nerves were there. … It was a little more emotional than I thought.”
That’s because the road back was so much longer and more difficult than he thought it would be, too. Perkins had not stood on the Target Field mound since Oct. 2, 2015, had not worn a Twins uniform since April 10, 2016, and had not been certain he would ever pitch again several times in the intervening 493 days. When he last pitched for the Twins, he knew there was a nagging discomfort in his left shoulder; he never imagined that it would require surgery to reattach the labrum to his shoulder, and 16 months of tedious and tortuous rehabilitation just to throw another slider.
So walking Edwin Encarnacion on five pitches felt like a victory, not a setback, though Perkins didn’t have much time to savor the accomplishment. A couple of fastballs reached 93 mph, the slider clocked in at 81, and his 20-pitch outing … well, it didn’t go well, except for establishing himself once again. Perkins believes he showed he still has effective pitches, and the fact that he hit Carlos Santana and Yan Gomes, and surrendered singles to Brandon Guyer and Bradley Zimmer, while only retiring Jay Bruce on a fly ball, was simply a starting point.
“I would like to have good results, and good results will come. It’s not like I’m done rehabbing, per se; it’s not like I’m done working on trying to improve,” said Perkins, 34. “I made some pitches [Thursday] that can get guys out, and I saw some swings that I had guys beat on. I had some sharp break on sliders. It’ll come.”
The Twins believe he can help, too, and decided Wednesday night to activate him. Manager Paul Molitor called Perkins at home around 10 p.m. “and he was obviously excited,” the manager said. “We’re all impressed by the perseverance he’s had to show to get back to the big leagues, and it’s finally here. After many, many months of work, a lot of setbacks along the way, he’s found his way back.”
Enns on the DL
Dietrich Enns, who missed two months of this season with a shoulder strain, was placed on the disabled list Wednesday when he experienced discomfort in his pitching shoulder again. Enns, who pitched two innings Tuesday, was diagnosed with inflammation, which will prevent him from making his second start next week. Molitor said Dillon Gee, who threw 36 pitches during Thursday’s first game, might get a start instead during Monday’s doubleheader in Chicago. The other starter will likely come from Class AAA Rochester.
• The Twins optioned lefthanded reliever Buddy Boshers to Rochester after Game 1 and recalled Nik Turley. The lefthander started three games in June, but he’ll be in the bullpen during this stint, Molitor said.
• To patch Rochester’s rotation, righthander Kohl Stewart, the Twins’ 2013 first-round pick, was promoted from Class AA Chattanooga.