As the pitcher trying to turn ninth-inning leads into victories, Glen Perkins is one of the most important Twins on the roster.
Terry Ryan never saw it coming.
"I didn't think this was going to turn out," the Twins general manager said about Perkins' conflict with the team. "Three years ago, when he was in [the minors], I wasn't sure he was going to be a member of this organization, much less [win] the [media] good-guy award."
Perkins was sent to Triple-A after coming off the disabled list near the end of the 2009 season, a demotion he regarded as an attempt to keep him from becoming eligible for arbitration. He filed a grievance, and while the case was settled before a hearing, Perkins sensed lingering hard feelings from his hometown organization.
"He's not wrong in saying that," Perkins said of Ryan's remarks. "I thought there was no chance I'd be in spring training in 2010. I'd have bet my life savings that I wouldn't be there."
The lefthander from Lakeland believes Ryan, who served as an advisor to then-General Manager Bill Smith, is the reason he was never traded.
"Things got testy, but I always knew he was a guy who had my back. I thought since he was still part of the organization, maybe I had a chance."
His summer didn't include a championship, but Josh Willingham's winter did. The Twins' left fielder is an Alabama season-ticket holder, and he took his family to Miami this month to watch the Crimson Tide win the BCS title game. Considering the Tide built a 35-0 lead in the third quarter, did he stay for the whole game? "Why would I leave early?" Willingham said. "The Notre Dame fans, they left early."
Oswaldo Arcia, one of the Twins' better prospects, was supposed to be at TwinsFest but was not allowed to fly after he was hit in the head by a pitch during Venezuelan winter ball action. Arcia, who will be in major league camp next month, was batting .313 with three solo homers in 14 games when he was beaned.
"He's going to be fine,'' said Brad Steil, the Twins director of minor leagues. "They just felt he needed a few days.''
End of an era?
Sunday could be the final time TwinsFest will be held in the Metrodome's 25-year history. The facility could be in the middle of Vikings stadium reconstruction next year.
The club plans to consider several options for next year's event. Twins president Dave St. Peter said the Minneapolis Convention Center, St. Paul RiverCentre, the National Sports Center in Blaine, the Mall of America or a combined effort at Target Field and Target Center are among the options.
A scaled-down version is expected because there isn't a venue as large as the Dome. Holding the event in Blaine in 2011 -- after the Dome's roof collapsed -- gave them an idea of how to scale down TwinsFest.
Aaron Hicks is one of five Twins switch-hitters. A natural righthander, he said his father gets the credit. Or blame. "My dad didn't want me to play baseball," Hicks said, "so he made me play lefthanded so I would get frustrated and stop."