Hartman: Perkins provides huge lift for bullpen

  • Article by: SID HARTMAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 22, 2011 - 6:47 AM

The lefthanded reliever had his ups and downs in 2010, but he has been lights out in 2011, especially in July.

Twins reliever Glen Perkins

Photo: Carlos Gonzalez, Star Tribune file

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Talk about a turnaround for the Twins' Glen Perkins. He has gone from being in the doghouse in 2010 to not only being the Twins' top relief pitcher in 2011, but also one of the best in Major League Baseball.

On July 21, 2010, Perkins was coming off one of his best starts of the season at Class AAA Rochester, going seven innings and giving up only one earned run, but his overall numbers at the time showed how far removed he was from his best pitching. The quality start and win over Buffalo gave Perkins a 4-8 record and dropped his ERA to 6.59. He would finish the season 4-9 with a 5.81 ERA in 124 innings pitched.

Naturally, Perkins was upset about being in the minor leagues despite his poor record, and he told the Star Tribune's Joe Christensen: "I guess I really found out the hard way that it's a business. I spent my life cheering for that team. I got drafted by them [in 2004] and got to the majors quick [in 2006] and two weeks later we're in the playoffs. I had a really good year in 2008 and everything was rosy. You find out the hard way that it doesn't matter."

Unhappy with his situation, Perkins filed a grievance and a hearing date was set, but the problem was settled before it reached the courts. Perkins and his agent felt that by sending him to the minors, the Twins cost him a chance to go to arbitration and earn a lot more money.

One thing about Twins general manager Bill Smith: He will never give even a hint about a player who is being shopped. But with the situation the way it was at Rochester, one has to believe that there was an effort to trade Perkins, but because of his record there wasn't much of a market.

Well, a year later things are so much different. Manager Ron Gardenhire, Smith and everybody else in the organization are happy with Perkins.

And why not? Before going on the DL on May 22, Perkins pitched 22 2/3 innings and had 22 strikeouts and a brilliant 1.59 ERA. Since coming back on June 17, he has pitched 14 innings, fanned 19 and has a 1.93 ERA.

In July, he has pitched the best of his career. In 10 games he has allowed only one run and one hit in 8 2/3 innings and struck out 12.

How does Perkins explain the change in his performance?

"I'm healthy and pitching better," he said. "They're putting me in spots where I can succeed, and I'm feeling good right now," said Perkins, who credits pitching coach Rick Anderson with helping his success.

"You know what, he's just made sure I stay right, and like I said, they're just putting me in spots and using me in situations where I can be successful. It's worked out," Perkins said.

New turf set at Dome

Before going into the hospital for a hernia operation on Thursday, Bill Lester, who runs the Metrodome, was a part of a board of directors meeting that awarded a contract to CG & B Enterprises, Inc. of Otsego to start the installation of new turf at the Dome on Aug. 1 at a cost of $476,984 and with a completion date of Aug. 18.

The Vikings put their stamp of approval on the product (UBU S5-M)) that is used in the Georgia Dome and the Superdome in New Orleans.

The old turf, only a year old, suffered water damage -- despite being covered by panels -- after the roof collapsed.

The Dome will have an open house -- free to the public -- on Aug. 20, when Viking players will test the turf. The Vikings are scheduled to play host to the Dallas Cowboys in a preseason game on Aug. 27.

Lester said the Dome booking office has been flooded with requests for things such as motorsports, all kinds of amateur football and the like.

Jottings

• Not only were all members of the Vikings ownership group in Atlanta for the Thursday meeting to vote on the new NFL collective bargaining agreement, but also present were vice presidents Rick Spielman, Kevin Warren, Rob Brzezinski and Steve Poppen.

• The Gophers athletic department hopes to make $250,000 in rent and concessions from the U2 concert on Saturday. However, in previous U2 appearances this year, the large stage has done a lot of damage to stadium turf, something the university feels won't happen here.

• Brittany Viola, the daughter of former Twins pitcher Frank Viola, finished 10th in the women's platform diving finals at the FINA World Championships in Shanghai, earning her a spot on the U.S. Olympic team.

• Former Gophers winger Blake Wheeler recently signed a two-year contract with Winnipeg, avoiding an arbitration hearing slated for early next month. Hastings native Taylor Chorney recently re-signed with the Edmonton Oilers.

• ESPN college basketball analyst Fran Fraschilla saw Gophers forward Trevor Mbakwe play at LeBron James' Nike Skills Academy and had this to say: "If 'playing hard' is a skill, as I believe it is, the attributes that enabled him to average a double-double in the Big Ten will be enough to get him a long look from NBA scouts this season." ... NBAdraft.net currently has Mbakwe as a first-round pick in its 2012 mock draft, going to the Oklahoma City Thunder at No. 25. In its 2013 mock draft, it has Gophers forward Rodney Williams being selected in the second round.

• Brock Vereen, the Gophers defensive back who started four games as a freshman last season, has a brother, Shane, who was drafted by the New England Patriots in the second round of the 2011 NFL draft. Shane, a running back, rushed for 1,167 yards during his junior year at California and graduated in three years.

• Former St. Olaf standout and St. Louis Park native Ben Hughes has made two appearances for the Casper Ghosts, the Rookie Pioneer League affiliate of the Colorado Rockies. Hughes has given up four runs over four innings but has struck out seven while walking two.

• With the NBA lockout in full swing, the NBC website Pro Basketball Talk announced on Thursday that the Goodman League, a pro-am league in Washington D.C., and the Drew League, a pro-am out of Los Angeles, are going to have an all-star game of sorts in Washington on Aug. 20 featuring several NBA players, including Timberwolves forward Michael Beasley. Other players scheduled to participate are Kevin Durant, John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins and former Timberwolf Craig Smith. The game will be available at basketballchannel.net.

Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on WCCO AM-830 at 6:40, 7:40 and 8:40 a.m. and on Sundays at 9:30 a.m. shartman@startribune.com

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