Twins closer Glen Perkins participated in his ninth Winter Caravan last week; this weekend, he’ll be part of the three days of TwinsFest at Target Field.
Between those two events, Perkins was at his home Wednesday doing two things he loves: smoking ribs and thinking about the season ahead.
“It’s about getting people excited for the season and introducing fans to new players,” Perkins said of the caravan and TwinsFest. “It’s just fun to see fans’ enthusiasm, especially for me in the winter. Spring and baseball is a fresh start.”
The Diamond Awards, a joint venture between the Twins and the local chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America benefiting University of Minnesota medical research and education, continued the Twins’ run of winter events Thursday evening.
The highlights of the night included a silent auction — featuring autographed Twins memorabilia and packages involving several local businesses — as well as the distribution of several awards from the 2014 season.
Among the honorees: Pitcher Phil Hughes was honored as the team’s MVP and top pitcher; Danny Santana was the Twins’ top rookie; Eduardo Escobar was named most improved; Brian Dozier won for top defensive player; and Kurt Suzuki took the Bob Allison award for hustle and competitive spirit.
Those players figure to be key pieces on the 2015 Twins, a group that will report to spring training next month with the intent of halting the organization’s run of four consecutive 92-loss seasons and playing what Perkins calls “meaningful games in September.”
The offseason is a time for optimism, but Perkins says he doesn’t consider himself a “pie in the sky” type of person. Last year’s 70-92 team improved in some areas but the final result fell short of expectations.
“I think we should have been a .500 team last year, and I think we improved from where we were last year,” Perkins said. “[Ervin] Santana is going to add depth to the rotation, and Torii [Hunter] is going to be good in a lot of ways. And obviously there’s the new staff. Time runs its course, and we’re excited to see how things are different in spring training and the season as well.”
Because as much as Perkins and fans enjoy the reliability of the Twins’ winter events, the predictable on-field results in recent years are wearing more than a little thin on everyone.
“It hasn’t been fun to watch. I went through the same thing watching the Twins in the 1990s, so I know what that’s like,” Perkins said. “Hopefully fans will stick with us and we’ll give them a reason to watch.”