Perkins, Suzuki named to American League All-Star squad

Closer Glen Perkins became a repeat pick, and will be joined by All-Star newcomer Kurt Suzuki.

Glen Perkins is headed back to the All-Star Game, and he won’t be Twins’ only representative.

“I have a knack for bringing catchers,” he said.

Kurt Suzuki, for the first time in his eight-year career, is headed for the Midsummer Classic on July 15 at Target Field. The Twins felt they had four candidates, but Perkins and Suzuki were their best two, so the club will have multiple representatives for the eighth time in the past 10 years.

“Ever since we got named as the host team for it, it was something a lot of guys in the clubhouse looked forward to,” Perkins said. “Things broke my way, and I kind of did everything I could do to be here. I don’t think it’s really sunk in yet, but I’m excited to represent the Twins and the state.

“It’s a dream come true. It’s overwhelming to think about, and hopefully I’ll be able to step back and enjoy it a little bit.”

Perkins is 3-0 with a 3.22 ERA. He’s tied for third in the American League with 20 saves. He’s had a few rough outings and he’s given up hits at a higher rate than in the previous three seasons, but he’s also reduced his walk rate to 1.7 per nine innings while increasing his strikeout rate to 11.9, which would be a career high.

In just his second full season of closing, Perkins has become one of the best in the game. And being a local product who starred at Stillwater High and for the Gophers before being selected in the first round by the Twins in 2004, it means a lot to him to make the team the year the game is in his hometown.

“I talked to him after I talked to [AL manager John Farrell],” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “He took a deep breath and sighed he was really excited. It was good for him. It was weighing on his mind heavily.”

Perkins was named to the team last season but didn’t pitch in the game. That shouldn’t be the case this year in Target Field.

“There was a lot of pressure this year to get here, from a lot of different people, and pressure I put on myself,” Perkins said. “In a way, when you make one, you get your name out there a little bit and it can maybe give you a nudge the next year. I’m excited.”

Just getting to an All-Star Game is a big deal for Suzuki, 30. He’s a career .257 hitter enjoying by far the best offensive season, batting .306 with two homers and 34 RBI. But his on base-plus-slugging percentage of .763 would be a career high. His OPS is second only to Kansas City’s Salvador Perez. The elbow injury to Baltimore’s Matt Wieters, the leading vote-getter at catcher, likely boosted Suzuki’s chances.

“I don’t know how to describe it — it’s kind of surreal right now,” he said. “I’m just trying to soak it all in and have a good time with it and enjoy myself.”

Who predicted that the Twins would still land a catcher in the All-Star Game the year Joe Mauer migrated to first base? Suzuki is the eighth Twins catcher to be named to the team.

“I’m excited for him,” Perkins said of Suzuki. “He’s had a heck of a year. He’s been our best player. More than deserving. I’m excited for him. It’s going to be a lot of fun, and hopefully I get to throw a ball.”

Suzuki said the only year he thought he had a chance was 2009, when he hit .293 with five homers and 37 RBI during the first half. Rookie closer Andrew Bailey got the nod instead.

“I always try to stay positive,” he said. “I always envisioned it. After the last two years, there was definitely a little doubt in there, but you try to stay positive, put in a lot of hard work, and time. You try to go out there and just play. I believed in myself. It’s just a matter of going out there and performing. I felt capable of doing it, and just going out there, if it happens, it happens, and try not to worry about all the other stuff.”

Righthander Phil Hughes, 8-5 with a 3.95 ERA, likely missed out because of his 8.05 ERA over his past three starts. Second baseman Brian Dozier is batting .234 with 16 home runs, 39 RBI, 15 stolen bases and a league-leading 62 runs scored. But Seattle’s Robinson Cano and Houston’s Jose Altuve are having big seasons. No Twins were selected as candidates for the Final Vote run-off.

“It is what it is,” Dozier said. “It’s something that would be cool to make. To be honest, I’m pretty pumped up to go home and see my niece and nephew. It’s one of those things that didn’t work out this year. Oh well.’’



 

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