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Perkins ready for more work outside of usual save situations

FORT MYERS, Fla. - Glen Perkins' labor was limited by injury this spring, but the veteran closer might be in line for more work for the Minnesota Twins in 2015, according to first-year manager Paul Molitor.

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Minnesota Twins closer Glen Perkins has compiled 70 saves over the past two seasons. USA Today Sports

FORT MYERS, Fla. – Glen Perkins’ labor was limited by injury this spring, but the veteran closer might be in line for more work for the Minnesota Twins in 2015, according to first-year manager Paul Molitor.
Molitor and pitching coach Neil Allen have spent weeks preaching about extended appearances and more flexibility from situational relievers in the bullpen.
Most radical would be summoning Perkins in the ninth inning during tie games on the road. The notion is to try to extend a ballgame with your best reliever and seize an extra-inning victory instead of waiting for a save opportunity that might never come.
Bring it on, says Perkins.
“I don’t need to sit there until the 13th inning to try to get a save,” he said this week. “Pitch me before that.”
Perkins said he planned to broach the subject with Molitor this spring but was beaten to the punch.
“He brought it up one day when we started chatting in his office,” Perkins said. “I figured it was something he would be on board with, being a little more analytical. But it was his idea. Hopefully it’s something that works out. We’ll see how it plays out.”
Managing his bullpen more aggressively on the road does not mean Molitor will redefine Perkins’ role. He still will be relied upon to protect leads by getting the final three outs of the ninth inning.
But the topic was brought up during Molitor’s interview for the manager’s job with general manager Terry Ryan.
“Terry and I talked about that this winter a little bit,” Molitor said. “It doesn’t happen very often where there’s a tie game on the road and you want to get to the ninth inning to have a chance to win.
“I think there’s some pretty sound logic to doing that in certain situations, depending on who else you’ve got out there and how they’re pitching, too.”
Perkins’ 70 saves over the past two seasons earned him All-Star appearances.
“He has been an All-Star closer; I don’t know if you’re going to start massaging that,” said Ryan.
Perkins also saved the 2014 All-Star Game at Target Field with an emotionally charged 1-2-3 ninth inning. He signed a contract extension last year that guaranteed him $22 million through 2017.
Perkins, however, has never closed for a winning team. His postseason record includes one-third of an inning in 2006 during Oakland’s three-game sweep of Minnesota in the American League Division Series.
“To try to get saves, I’m past that. I want to help the team win, that’s first and foremost,” he said. “I said I’ll pitch whenever you want me to.”
An oblique strain early in spring training sidelined Perkins more than two weeks. He is scheduled to throw one final spring inning Saturday against the Boston Red Sox. He has not been called upon to close a game.
“I’m not worried about it being a save opportunity,” Molitor said. “With his lack of appearances, I think it’s more important that we just get him out there as opposed to when I get him out there.”
The Pioneer Press is a media partner with Forum News Service.

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