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Twins bullpen could use a boost, too

  • Article by: La VELLE E. NEAL III
  • Star Tribune
  • September 24, 2012 - 11:50 PM

Twins relievers entered Monday with a 3.66 ERA that ranked eighth in the American League. While starting pitching will be a top priority during the offseason, the club will look to add relievers as well.

There is no denying that lefthander Glen Perkins (3-1, 2.44 ERA, 14 saves) and righthander Jared Burton (2-1, 2.01, five saves) have become one of the better 1-2 punches around. One unanswered question is if the Twins are ready to go with Perkins as the full-time closer next year. He has thrived in the role since Matt Capps went down because of shoulder problems.

But the Twins ended up using 16 relievers this season, not including catcher Drew Butera's one-inning emergency stint in Milwaukee. And some pitchers have showed their inexperience.

"You can talk about Burton and Perkins, they have had nice years," General Manager Terry Ryan said. "Other guys, they have shown flashes of being pretty decent. But the consistency over a 162-game season is still a question mark. Some of them are young enough where you can say that's expected, as long as you keep them in the right role."

After the season, the Twins will decide which role Perkins will be in for 2013, then try to fill out a bullpen while looking to augment the starting rotation.

"We don't have everything in house," Ryan said. "We'll look at both. If there is someone we like and think is going to help us, we will pursue them."

Capps is back

Could Capps be part of the solution? The righthander, who last was seen on a major league mound July 16, was activated from the disabled list Monday after recovering from rotator cuff irritation.

He wants to prove he is healthy so potential suitors won't view him as an injury risk this offseason. He spent about a week in Fort Myers, Fla., pitching to prospects at the Twins annual instructional league.

"He came in all excited and was pumped up," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "He had a couple good performances down there in terms of feeling really good."

Capps pitched the ninth inning vs. the Yankees on Monday, giving up two hits but no runs.

There's a $6 million option for 2013 on Capps' contact, and the Twins are expected to pay his $250,000 buyout, making him a free agent. It's unclear if they would be interested in bringing him back at a lower price or not.

It's over

The dream is over for Germany, crushed 11-1 by Canada on Monday in World Baseball Classic qualifying.

Canada lefthander Andrew Albers, who pitched for the Twins' Class AA New Britain farm team, went six innings for the victory. Rock Cats outfielder Rene Tosoni was 1-for-4.

Toby Gardenhire, Ron's son, was 0-for-3 for Deutschland, as was Max Kepler, one of the Twins' better prospects. The 19-year-old outfielder from Berlin hit .297 in 57 games at rookie league Elizabethton this year.

Etc.

• Josh Willingham left Monday's game after seven innings because of a left shoulder strain and will undergo a magnetic resonance imaging exam Tuesday. The Twins left fielder was injured when he jumped at the wall while attempting to catch Eric Chavez's home run. Chris Herrmann replaced Willingham.

• Chris Parmelee returned after missing four games for the birth of his first child and hit a two-run triple in the ninth inning off David Robertson.

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