La Velle E. Neal III has covered baseball for the Star Tribune since 1998 (the post-Knoblauch era). Born and raised in Chicago, he grew up following the White Sox and hating the Cubs. He attended both the University of Illinois and Illinois-Chicago and began his baseball writing career at the Kansas City Star. He can be heard occasionally on KFAN radio, lending his great baseball mind to Paul Allen and other hosts. Mark Rosen borrows him occasionally for WCCO-TV.

Phil Miller covered three seasons of Twins baseball, but that was at a different ballpark for a different newspaper. Now Miller returns to the baseball beat after joining the Star Tribune as the Gopher football writer in 2010, and he won't miss the dingy dome for a minute. In addition to the Twins and Gophers, Miller covered the Utah Jazz and the NBA for six years at The Salt Lake Tribune.

Twins sign reliever Perez to minor-league deal

Posted by: La Velle E. Neal III Updated: February 14, 2013 - 12:07 PM
The Twins might have added some depth to their bullpen Thursday by signing lefthanded reliever Rafael Perez to a minor league contract. Twins fans should be familiar with Perez, who pitched the past seven seasons for AL Central rival Cleveland.
The lefthander has a 21-12 career record with a 3.64 ERA. He was a combined 11-3 in 2010-11, but had shoulder problems last season that eventually required surgery. He appeared in just eight games last season for the Indians.
Perez will report to camp on Thursday. The Twins, technically, will have 35 pitchers in camp but Nick Blackburn and Lester Oliveros are on the minor league side rehabbing injuries.
He has decent stuff, as evidenced by 268 strikeouts in 329 career innings.  Perez has pitched mostly in set-up roles, and could be in that same spot with the Twins, since former lefthanded set-up man Glen Perkins is now the team’s closer.

UPDATE: Twins manager Ron Gardenhire was pleased with the signing, because Perez has a career 1.89 ERA in 41 games against them. Joe Mauer approved of the signing too.

``He hides the ball well,'' Mauer said.

Caution is needed here. Shoulder surgeries can be tough to come back from. But if Perez is all the way back, he could be a valuable middle relief option. For more info on Perez's surgery, check out this story. 

Day 2

The Perez signing was the biggest news on a day in which the Twins had to move their work indoors to avoid the rain. Some drills had to be scratched, but the pitchers got their work in, which is important.

Some quick observations:

Jared Burton and Darin Mastroianni are in fantastic shape.

Josh Roenicke is a reliever to watch in camp. Roenicke posted a 3.25 ERA with Colorado last season despite a high walk rate. There's also Tim Wood, a two-time International League reliever of the year. Both players are out of options

Brian Dozier is switching his uniform number from No. 20 to No.2. ``No. 20 didn't work out too well for me last year,'' he said. ``Maybe I can get some of that Denard Span magic.''

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