The Twins took the optimistic view about their injured closer, General Manager Terry Ryan said. Glen Perkins’ shoulder might heal with rest, the thinking went, might not require surgery, and might allow him to pitch again this season.
No, no and nope.
Perkins’ labrum is torn in his left shoulder, a specialist in California confirmed this week, and surgery next week will be necessary to repair it, Ryan confirmed. The three-time All-Star won’t pitch again until spring training next March — if then.
“We were hoping to rehab it, but it didn’t work. So now, surgically, we’ll get this taken care of and hopefully everything will go well and we can get him ready for spring training,” Ryan said. “You always want to avoid surgery if you can, so we went through two months of rehab.”
The surgery will be performed by Dr. Neal AlAttrache, the doctor who examined Perkins this week, at the Kerman-Jobe Orthopaedic Clinic in southern California. AlAttrache confirmed the existence of a “labrial abnormality” in the lefthander’s shoulder, Ryan said, and will examine his rotator cuff as well. Perkins has felt discomfort in his shoulder since the beginning of the season. He pitched only twice, an inning each April 9 and 10 at Kansas City, gave up five hits and two runs, and went on the disabled list shortly afterward.
More than once over the past couple of months, the Twins believed Perkins’ shoulder would improve enough to allow him to pitch. But he had a series of setbacks, the result, Ryan said, of fraying in his labrum from years of throwing fastballs at 95 miles per hour. Doctors believe the injury was caused by normal wear, Ryan said, not any specific incident over the past year.
Perkins met with Ryan, manager Paul Molitor and the medical staff Thursday. He plans to address the media on Friday.
Now the Twins must wrestle with two critical questions: Will Perkins, owed $6.5 million for next season, the last of a four-year, $22 million contract, ever be the All-Star-level pitcher he was for most of the past three seasons? And who will serve as the Twins closer for this season and beyond?
“Let’s see exactly what happens here. If he’s ready for spring training, that’s one path. If he’s not, that’s another,” Ryan said. “As long as he does his rehab and he’s diligent on the rehab calendar, he should be OK.”
Kevin Jepsen was the Twins closer much of last season, when Perkins was sidelined by what Ryan said was an unrelated shoulder injury, and he inherited the job again this season, but wasn’t able to hold it. Ryan mentioned Ryan Pressly, Trevor May and Michael Tonkin as potential replacements in that role, and Fernando Abad and Brandon Kintzler have handled it recently. And the Twins have a handful of hard-throwing relievers in the minor leagues in various stages of development.
“Somebody’s going to get an opportunity to get some innings,” Ryan said. “We’ve struggled finding people to fill those innings, and hopefully some will respond.”
That’s Molitor’s hope, too. “It’s not what you would call an experienced pen, and we’re kind of learning about people and how they respond in various situations,” he said. “But it’s an opportunity for guys to pitch … maybe when the game’s on the line. I hope it makes all these guys better in the long run.”