ST. PETERSBURG, FLA. – The workload is daunting, Glen Perkins said, the days incredibly busy. Being an All-Star closer has really ratcheted up the responsibilities.
For his wife, Alisha, he means. “We’ve got a small contingent of people coming [to New York]. Well, a medium contingent,” Perkins said, “and she’s been getting everything organized. There’s a lot of planning, I guess.”
But Perkins himself? His workload has tailed off considerably. The Twins closer has converted 20 of his 22 save opportunities this season, but he hasn’t been given a chance in 13 games. Save No. 20 came on June 27.
“It’s a little frustrating, yeah,” he said. “Not that I’m not pitching — it’s that we’re not winning. I don’t need that stat to make me feel better. I just want to pitch, and pitch in winning games. That’s what’s been a little tough.”
Perkins has thrown an inning in three different games since his last save, in the closest thing Ron Gardenhire could find to a save situation. He protected a 6-2 lead against Kansas City on June 29 and a 6-0 lead at Toronto on Saturday. He also was called in to keep a 3-2 deficit in place in a July 3 loss to the Yankees. In all three games, he faced three batters and retired them all, which is a relief, he said.
“I guess I don’t want to be known as one of those guys who gives up hits if it’s not a save situation,” Perkins said. “You’ve still got to go out there and get the outs. In some ways you probably do have to focus a little more to make sure when there’s not as much adrenaline, you’re still making your pitches like the game is on the line.”
With five days since his last appearance, Perkins, whose 32⅔ innings are fewer than any of the AL’s top 10 saves leaders, said “I’ll be in [Gardenhire’s] ear” about getting in an inning of work as soon as possible. “We’re back to the point where I need to pitch. They know I need to be out there to be consistent. Everyone does,” he said. “They do a good job of getting me out there, and until then, I’ll just stay ready.”
Vibes better, results not
The Twins are just as discontented as their fans are about the ugly turn the season has taken over the past three weeks, Gardenhire said Wednesday. But he doesn’t plan any equipment-throwing, expletive-shouting clubhouse tantrums.
“You can kind of beat guys down all you want to, but that doesn’t work,” the Twins manager said. “We’ve got a bunch of kids in this lineup with not a lot of experience at going through rough things. You’ve just got to keep patting them on the back and being as positive as you possibly can. Just make sure they’re doing all their work, and these guys are working very hard.”
He held a meeting in hopes of breaking the tension Friday, exhorting his players to have more fun. The Twins responded by winning Saturday, only to lose the next four. The atmosphere is better, he said, though the results don’t show it yet.
“It’s up to my staff and myself to make sure you create that kind of atmosphere around here,” he said. “You go out and do your work, and when the game starts, you stay positive.”
• Righthander Michael Tonkin arrived in Florida during Wednesday’s game, but since he isn’t yet on the active roster, he was not allowed in the dugout. Tonkin waited for his new teammates at the team’s hotel. He will be in uniform Thursday, when lefthander Caleb Thielbar returns to Minnesota for his grandmother’s funeral.