BALTIMORE – Twins closer Glen Perkins has been bothered by a sore neck for at least six weeks. It led to him being unavailable for occasional games, as well as a visit to a chiropractor in the middle of a road trip.
Perkins tried to pitch through it, but the quality of his pitches changed on a day-to-day basis. His ERA and blown saves shot up. That led to the decision to have a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) exam done in the Twin Cities on Wednesday. He also received two cortisone injections for a bulging disk in his neck. He is back with the Twins now and hopes to be ready to pitch early next week.
“I wanted to get it done at a time where we still had time here, and where I can make a difference through the rest of the season,” Perkins said. “The last month hasn’t gone the way any of us wanted. I haven’t done my job, and this will help going forward.”
Last year, Perkins was shut down in September because of a sore neck that caused numbness in his shoulder and arm. He took a cortisone shot in January and felt fine. This year, he was 28-for-28 in save situations and was named to his third consecutive All-Star team. But it was during a late June road trip where Perkins began having problems.
“I was unavailable for a game in Milwaukee,” he said. “I was unavailable for a game in Cincinnati. And I saw a chiropractor in Kansas City.”
Perkins felt he could manage the pain and be effective. His neck was sore but he didn’t have the accompanying numbness he had back in September. So he tried to pitch through it.
He grew concerned while warming up during the All-Star Game. His pitches weren’t consistent and lacked life. In 11 appearances since the All-Star break, he is 1-3 with an 8.10 ERA and his only two blown saves of the season, and he finally decided to have his neck looked at.
“We’re all encouraged that this is something in which he can avoid being disabled for 15 days,” manager Paul Molitor said.
It usually takes three days for the medication to take full effect, but Perkins already is feeling better. Indications are that he will play catch Saturday, throw in the bullpen Sunday, enjoy the scheduled off day Monday then be ready Tuesday at Tampa Bay.
“I was stubborn about it,” Perkins said. “I regret not getting it taken care of earlier.”
Byron Buxton did hit .400 in 13 games for Class AAA Rochester, but he had to miss Monday’s game to recover from crashing into the fence while trying to make a catch the day before. Once it was determined that he was not seriously injured, the Red Wings had some fun with him the next day.
“They wanted to make fun of me running into the wall so they taped my jersey [to the outfield wall], taped my pants,” Buxton said. “They stuck a ball in the crease by how far I missed it.”
But it was scary when it happened. And for someone like Buxton, who had an injury-prone 2014 season that included a concussion, any collision will be taken more seriously until it doesn’t have to be.
“It just knocked the wind out of me a little bit,” he said.
What was impressive was that he stayed in the game the day he smashed into the wall, hit his first Class AAA home run then added a walk-off hit.
Righthander Ricky Nolasco, who has been out since early June because of a right ankle injury, will start playing catch on Monday.
It was believed that Nolasco’s season was pretty much over because he would not have enough time to get his arm ready to pitch. But he’s moving well and is going to give it a shot.
He ended up having surgery to remove a bone chip that caused the impingement in his ankle.